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Redis Labs joins the streak of software firms tweaking their licenses to prevent cloud service providers from misusing their open source code. Today, Redis Labs announced a change in their license from Apache2 modified with Commons Clause to Redis Source Available License (RSAL). This has been the second time that the company has changed its license. Back in August 2018, Redis Labs changed the license of their Redis Modules from AGPL to Apache2 modified with Commons Clause, to ensure that open source companies would continue to contribute to their projects and maintain sustainable business in the cloud era. This move was initially received with some skepticism when some people incorrectly assumed that the Redis core went proprietary, which was wrong to assume.

Relating this move to open source companies like MongoDB and Confluent, Redis Labs says that every company has taken a different approach to stop cloud providers from exploiting open source projects developed by others by packaging them into proprietary services, and using their “monopoly power to generate significant revenue streams”.

Feedback from multiple users to improve their license to favor developers’ needs identified three major areas needed to be addressed:

  1. The term Apache2 modified by Commons Clause caused confusion with some users, who thought they were only bound by the Apache2 terms.
  2. Common Clause’s language included the term “substantial” as a definition for what is and what isn’t allowed- there was a lack of clarity around the meaning of this term.
  3. Some Commons Clause restrictions regarding “support” worked against Redis Lab’s intention to help grow the ecosystem around Redis Modules.

Taking all of this into consideration, Redis Labs has changed the license of Redis Modules to Redis Source Available License (RSAL).  


What is Redis Source Available License (RSAL)?

RSAL is a software license created by Redis Labs applicable only to a certain Redis Modules running on top of open source Redis. This aims to grant equivalent rights to permissive open source licenses for the vast majority of users. This license will “allow developers to use the software; modify the source code, integrate it with an application; and use, distribute or sell their application.” The RSAL introduces just one restriction; the application cannot be a database, a caching engine, a stream processing engine, a search engine, an indexing engine or an ML/DL/ AI serving engine.

According to Yiftach Shoolman, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Redis Labs, this movement will not have any effect on the  Redis core license and shouldn’t really affect most developers who use the company’s modules (and these modules are RedisSearch, RedisGraph, RedisJSON, RedisML, and RedisBloom).

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