Sustain Together - September 8th Summary

Last Friday, we hosted a call to document, share, and respond to current events in open-source sustainability. Our next call is happening Friday, 22 September, 16:00-17:00 UTC 2 (12pm ET / 9 am PT) -

Here’s a summary of the last week’s call:

  1. The FREE SOFTWARE FESTIVAL AVEIRO 2023(Festa do Software Livre): will be taking place in the Department of Electronics, Telecommunications and IT at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. A press release will be out soon.
  • Action: Share it on social media! LinkedIn and Mastodon. Maybe X and Meta
  1. New Open source Job opening: for the role of Open Source Program Office Director in George Washington University. Sustain Academic WG just started to help these types of OSPOs. Research, ed-tech. The first meeting will be held in two weeks, where a List of OSPOs from academia will be presented, and you can also collaborate to improve it.

The Sustain Academic working group also received a grant from Sloan to work on this topic—details of the grant in the previous call. It was also discussed that CHAOSS also has a similar WG, that has aligned interests and everyone is urged to join this one as well: University Metrics Minutes and Agenda.

  • Actions: Join the WG if you’re interested.
  1. Unicef is hiring for the role of an Open Source Mentor Consultant. The role is based in Sweden, but it’s a remote position. They’re mostly focused on DPGs. If you want more info, please contact Justin Flory

  2. There is a Forthcoming Sustain in Environmental Sustainability Podcast. It was said we will have five different podcasts. Super exciting!

  3. The Ford Foundation has launched a multi-funder initiative: 2023 Digital Infrastructure Insights Fund RFP . This is the third round, with multiple founders. There was a question on whether we could apply to organize these Sustain community calls and programs.

  4. On the topic of IEEE OSSPWG, it was discussed that PAR is going to be removed, so the whole PAR will be removed in around a month, on October 24. In the meantime, all of the participants are organizing under a different umbrella (not IEEE), probably under the Eclipse Foundation. If a standard is adopted by the government, it must be open. It was said that Eclipse is setting up its infrastructure for this GW. Meanwhile, IEEE will close down the WG.

  1. A recent New Stack article reports that Hashicorp has dropped an open license for Terraform. It was discussed that these news stories are signals that there could be a possible revenue issue in open-source. Other thoughts suggest It is not a revenue issue but a Business Model issue, as the idea of Open Source is meant to reward stakeholders, not (only) shareholders.

It was recounted that There had been a previous discussion about this. And so, the question was asked whether we have regulations around this and/or if it is legally/technically possible to change the license.

Another comment suggested that as long as the contributors are aware of the possibility (might be due to signing SLAs), the copyright owners have the right. What can’t be done is to change the license retroactively. You can read more about these in these articles:

Action Items that came up under this was too Make a list of the license changes that show a systematic issue in open-source funding:

  • Red Hat enterprise version is an example
  • Hashicorp
  • Elastic
  • MongoDB
  • The BSL


@RichardLitt @gvlx @coni2k @Ibiam @Anita_Ihuman

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These two articles have links and dates to the previous license changes:

With this change we are following a path similar to other companies in recent years. These companies include Couchbase, Cockroach Labs, Sentry, and MariaDB, which developed this license in 2013. Companies including Confluent, MongoDB, Elastic, Redis Labs, and others have also adopted alternative licenses that include restrictions on commercial usage.

At the corporate level, a similar sentiment has slowly but surely been taking hold. The current moment in open source really started in 2018, when MongoDB and Redis Labs added new terms to their licensing agreements that restricted the ability to resell their code. Several others followed suit, including Cockroach Labs, Confluent, and Sentry. Notably, in so doing, Sentry created the Business Source License (BSL) that HashiCorp just adopted for Terraform.

Apart from that, I’m curious about the COSS people’s opinion on these license changes. Do they see them as failures, part of the process, or did the companies make errors attracting contributors/community?