While companies like Red Hat have managed to make a fortune by offering an open source solution, other open source developers have struggled to monetize what is commonly viewed as “free.” A Fair Source license could be a solution to help developers make money, while still upholding the spirit behind open source code.
According to Wired, startup company Sourcegraph just released a tool under the Fair Source license, a provision that says any company with over 15 employees using the software has to pay for it. “You can still make changes to the software and even publish your own custom versions of it,” Wired explained. “But users of your modified version, if they hit that 15-employee threshold, will have to pay Sourcegraph too.”
To the open source community – particularly those deeply devoted to open source – this plan may fail to please. Wired explained it as an attempt to “strike a balance between getting paid and preserving the core values of open source,” and stressed that it could help developers who might otherwise release a closed source product.