MariaDB Business Source License (BSL)

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ addresses questions for MariaDB customers and users interested in why MariaDB is employing the Business Source License (BSL). Vendors and developers interested in learning how to adopt the BSL for their own products should go to mariadb.com/bsl-faq-adopting.

Q: What is Business Source License (BSL)?

A: BSL is a new alternative to closed source or open core licensing models. Under BSL, the source code is always publicly available. Non-production use of the code is always free, and the licensor can also make an Additional Use Grant allowing limited production use. Source code is guaranteed to become Open Source at a certain point in time. On the Change Date, or the fourth anniversary of the first publicly available distribution of the code under the BSL, whichever comes first, the code automatically becomes available under the Change License. The Change License is mandated to be GPL Version 2.0 or later, or a compatible license (i.e., the Change License is always an Open Source license that enables use of the software in a GPL project).

Q: Which version of the BSL does MariaDB Corporation use?

A: BSL 1.1 for these projects. For MariaDB MaxScale 2.0.0 until 2.0.4, BSL 1.0 was used.

Q: Do the terms and conditions for MariaDB customers change materially between BSL 1.0 and 1.1?

A: No. The changes introduced in BSL 1.1 are wording changes aimed at simplifying the adoption of BSL by other vendors, through setting consistent user expectations on BSL. One wording change is the elimination of Use Limitation (from BSL 1.0), which is replaced by Additional Use Grant (in BSL 1.1).

Q: Why did MariaDB Corporation adopt a new license for MariaDB MaxScale?

A: MariaDB Corporation adopted BSL to ensure that Open Source development can continue to deliver the innovation benefits of entirely open code (vs. say open core), while providing a model for the company to have a sustainable business.

BSL is a licensing innovation designed to drive stronger community participation by making the code freely available and open for non-production usage, modification or distribution that is below the specified use limitation.  BSL 1.1 allows for (and encourages) the licensor to define an Additional Use Grant (e.g., allowing for free use below a specified level, like in this example).

Q: Which MariaDB Corporation products will be under the BSL?

A: BSL 1.1 for these projects. For MariaDB MaxScale 2.0.0 until 2.0.4, BSL 1.0 . MariaDB Server will continue to be licensed under GPL in perpetuity, while its connectors will continue to be under the LGPL.

Q: Can I use MariaDB products licensed under BSL in test and development environment?

A: Yes, In non-production test and development environment, you can use products licensed under BSL without needing a subscription from MariaDB

Q: How is the BSL different from Open Core?

A: Open core offers some code under Open Source terms, but non-core code is not under Open Source terms, is not available in source form, cannot be modified and compiled, cannot be contributed to, and will never be Open Source. By using Open Core software, like with closed source code, you are locked to one vendor. With BSL, as compared to Open Core, the source code is available from the start, can be modified and compiled, contributions are encouraged, the product will become fully Open Source after a period of time and remains free for non-production use. The importance of the eventual Open Source is that users are free from vendor lock-in. If the vendor decides to stop contributing to the code, users have open access and can modify, update and extend as needed.

Q: How is the BSL different from dual GPL/commercial licensing?

A: When using dual licensing with GPL, companies must pay for a commercial license to use the software with their closed source code. With BSL, the companies are only paying for the software if they want to make production use of the software. From a vendor perspective, GPL dual licensing only works for infrastructure products that other companies want to deeply embed in their product. BSL works for any kind of software product.

Q: How is BSL different from the Fair Source License (https://fair.io/)?

A: The Fair Source License uses the number of users as a limitation, which makes sense for some types of software such as stand-alone applications, but not for all. BSL limitations are more general and can vary from project to project by including an Additional Use Grant, depending on what makes sense for a balance between free usage and paid usage. In addition, BSL code is guaranteed to become Open Source software after a certain specified time.

Q: Can I use the BSL for my own software?

A: Yes, if you own the copyright to your code (or it is based on software with a permissive license, such as BSD). The BSL framework is designed to make it trivial for anyone to release their software under BSL. To convert your software to BSL, you have to add the BSL header to all your software files and include the BSL license file in your software distribution. In addition, you have to specify an Additional Use Grant (or state that there is none) and a Change Date that suits your software in the header of the BSL license file.

To read more about using BSL for your own products, or modifying existing BSL products, please refer to the Adopting and Developing BSL Software FAQ here.

If you have additional questions about BSL or how it applies to MariaDB Corporation products, please contact us here.

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