Switching Dgraph to a Liberal License - Dgraph Blog

I think dGraph is really awesome SW, but it should stay open source. This licence, in my opinion, is not good choice.


@mrjn Is there any chance that this will change? Perhaps releasing ratel with the clause and the main DB with something more open?

As someone who has developed a significant code-base around Dgraph that we were planning to open source, I share the sentiment of the developers. I also understand Dgraph Labs’s motivation. Like Redis Labs, they don’t want AWS/etc, with their abundant resources, to take advantage of their hard work and essentially take away their future business.

I am not a fan of Common Clause because it “pollutes” and negates well-defined and well-meaning open-source licenses. The clause has nothing to do with Open Source and therefore should not be associated with such licenses. There should be a new Non-Open-Source license that incorporates the terms of Common Clause, and Dgraph Labs (and others) should switch to it.

For now, everyone should understand that Dgraph is not Open Source. You should develop on it and/or contribute to it if you accept the risks and restrictions associated with it’s ambiguous license. If you are not comfortable with that, as is our case, you have many choices, including ArangoDB, OrientDB, JanusGraph and Neo4j.

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I am also concerned with complex licences, which may be problematic for my startup, even though I am not a lawyer. I was excited when they moved away from the AGPL

As a startup founder I understand DGraph’s perspective, that they wan’t to have a business built upon this technology, and don’t just want anyone to be able to sell their DB “as is” without some sort of financial benefit flowing back to them as the creators.

I am keen fo them to succeed financially so they have the capital to add new feature and keep improving the performance etc.

As a lawyer what sort of clause could you add that would allow DGraph to have ownership on selling the DB as a service but not conflict with a company building a product that uses it as it’s primary DB, if not the clause that @mjrn says does just that?

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First, let me start with the standard lawyer fare of stating that I’m not providing any legal advice. Without knowing the particulars of the business model, goals, etc, being able to provide an ample legal solution is simply not possible.

With that said, open source software does have a proven track record. Companies can be built upon the model. Yes it may be fraught with challenges, but with it come benefits as well.

It is the model that pretends to be open to the community, but is in fact a wolf in sheep’s clothing, that bother me greatly. Many developers will likely not understand the potential threat of something like the Commons Clause. If for no other reason than the name itself seems innocuous. Perhaps @mrjn does not fully understand, at least that is my read given his earlier response.

Perhaps there is a place for something like this clause. I can see it for something like ratel. A tool that is used by developers, but not made to be reused. The database itself is fundamentally different. Its purpose is to be embedded into a larger stack. That Clause has now compromised that stack. It is entirely inappropriate for any project where the developer may want to attract business from the public. Even if it were an entirely internal sysyem with no public facing UI, it’s broad nature might still be far reaching enough to taint it.

Speaking for myself, with this license, I cannot see building anything other than a proof of concept, housed in my machine, for my usage only. Even that I would be wary of. “Substantial” is a vague word that can be interpreted (and had been) differently by different courts in different jurisdictions. I would not be willing to risk myself or my business over that word.

Yes, dgraph is nice. But as long as it remains under a restrictive license, I cannot advocate its adoption, nor implement it myself. There are many other open source alternatives.

If I were to advise dgraph I would start by making sure there was a clear identity and set of company goals. And if I were asked about adopting this Clause, I would ask why? Because in the end I don’t think it does what they want. With a clear perspective, only then can the appropriate license be chosen. I won’t surmise as to my thoughts on how or why it was adopted. I choose to believe it was with an innocent heart and that @mrjn believes what he said. But again, for me, that is not enough.

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Here here!

If only the forum software allowed me to highlight this text…

I agree. I cannot imagine that Google is the intended audience that this platform was built for. As I stated earlier, knowing the identity of a piece of software and a company are crucial first steps before deciding upon an appropriate license.

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Hey folks,

We’ve heard your concerns around licensing. This thread is now attracting fake accounts, who are just trying to troll this discussion. I’m closing this topic. Feel free to start a new topic in the forum if you want to discuss this further.