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February 21, 2019updated 22 Feb 2019 10:27am

Redis Labs Shakes Up Licence Structure (Again)

You can do anything with Redis Modules, but don't do that...

By CBR Staff Writer

Redis Labs, the open source NoSQL database provider, has – once again – revised its licence structures for Redis Modules, saying its move last year to an Apache2 + Commons clause had confused partners who thought the Redis core had now been made proprietary.

The company is among the most vocal advocates of the need to adjust open source licences to prevent “cannibalisation” of open source software (OSS) projects by cloud providers like AWS – who stand accused of “strip mining” OSS projects by packaging them up as managed services, without contributing back to the codebase.

See also: AWS Launches Managed Kafka: Is It “Strip Mining” Open Source?

Last year, as a result, it changed the license for its Redis Modules (API-enabled plugins built on top of existing Redis data structures) from AGPL to an Apache2 modified with Commons Clause. Yet the move was controversial with partners, who said it made data governance challenging.

As Redis Labs Chief Marketing Officer Manish Gupta explains to Computer Business Review: “What we heard, e.g. from Google, is that it made data governance very complicated.”

“Under Apache2 + Commons any modifications to the code have to be contributed back to open source. But if you’re a company with developers all over the world it’s hard to know what any and every developer is doing and that was a risk for them, so we’ve released a new licence that takes this and other feedback into account.”

Redis Labs License Change

The company said today it is now licensing its Redis Modules under a freshly brewed “Redis Source Available License” (RSAL).

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This licence is similar to open source licenses for the vast majority of users, Redis Labs said: developers can use the software; modify the source code, integrate it with an application; and use, distribute or sell their application.

But it comes with a catch: 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. (Things, in short, that Redis is monetising already).

redis labs license

Redis Labs said: “We identified three areas that needed to be addressed [in the previous licencing structure]”.

  • The term Apache2 modified by Commons Clause caused confusion with some users, who thought they were only bound by the Apache2 terms.
  • 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.
  • Last but not least, some Commons Clause restrictions regarding “support” worked against our intention to help grow the ecosystem around Redis Modules.

The company has made a detailed FAQs page available.

The change comes a week after rapidly growing Redis announced that it had raised $60 million in a Series E funding round. This was by a new investor, Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm.

The round included participation by the company’s existing investors, Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, Bain Capital Ventures, Viola Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital. Gupta told Computer Business Review that the company did not need to raise the funds but “the market opportunity is so large for us, accelerating funding in our innovation cycle and go-to-market” was too enticing to resist.

Read this: The Art of Instant Data Delivery

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