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MongoDB switches to Server Side Public License (SSPL) to prevent cloud providers from exploiting its open source code

MongoDB, a leading free, and open source general purpose database platform, announced yesterday that it has issued a new software license, the Server Side Public License (SSPL), for the MongoDB community server. This new license will be applied to all the new releases and versions of the MongoDB community server, including the patch fixes for prior versions.

“The market is increasingly consuming software as a service, creating an incredible opportunity to foster a new wave of great open source server-side software. Unfortunately, once an open source project becomes interesting, it is too easy for cloud vendors who have not developed the software to capture all of the value while contributing little back to the community,” mentioned Eliot Horowitz, CTO, and co-founder, MongoDB.

Earlier, MongoDB was licensed under the GNU AGPLv3 (AGPL). This license allowed the companies to modify and run MongoDB as a publicly available service but only if they open source their software or acquire a commercial license from MongoDB. However, as the popularity of MongoDB grew, some cloud providers started taking MongoDB’s open-source code to offer a hosted commercial version of its database to their users without abiding by the open-source rules. This is why MongoDB decided to switch to the SSPL.


“We have greatly contributed to, and benefited from, open source, and are in a unique position to lead on an issue impacting many organizations. We hope this new license will help inspire more projects and protect open source innovation”, said Horowitz.

The SSPL is not very different from the AGPL license. Only that SSPL clearly specified the condition for providing open source software as a service. In fact, the new license offers the same level of freedom as the AGPL to the open source community. Companies still have the freedom to use, review, modify and redistribute the software but to use MongoDB as a service, they need to open source the software that they’re using. This is not applicable to customers who have purchased a commercial license from MongoDB.

“We are big believers in open source. It leads to more valuable, robust and secure software. However, it is important that open source licenses evolve to keep pace with the changes in our industry. With the added protection of the SSPL, we can continue to invest in R&D and further drive innovation and value for the community”, mentioned Dev Ittycheria, President & CEO, MongoDB.

For more information, check out the official MongoDB announcement.

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