Season 3 Episode 3 Jan 28, 2021

Elasticsearch License Change, Alpha Global Union, A Cookie-tracking Alternative, and White House Website Accessibility Features

Pitch

May the source be open

Description

In this episode, we talk about International Google workers unionizing, a potentially more privacy-friendly alternative to Cookie tracking, and new web accessibility features on the White House website. Then we chat with Jacob Rogers, Senior Legal Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, about what we need to know about upcoming licensing changes to Elasticsearch and Kibana.

Hosts

Saron Yitbarek

Disco - Founder

Saron Yitbarek is the founder of CodeNewbie, and host of the CodeNewbie podcast and co-host of the base.cs podcast.

Josh Puetz

Forem - Principal Engineer

Josh Puetz is Principal Software Engineer at Forem.

Guests

Jacob Rogers

Jacob Rogers is senior legal counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Show Notes

Audio file size

50364958

Duration

00:34:59

Transcript

[00:00:10] SY: Welcome to DevNews, the news show for developers by developers, where we cover the latest in the world of tech. I’m Saron Yitbarek, Founder of Disco.

 

[00:00:19] JP: And I’m Josh Puetz, Principal Engineer at Forem.

 

[00:00:21] SY: This week, we’re talking about international Google workers unionizing, a potentially more privacy friendly alternative to cookie tracking, and new web accessibility features on the White House website.

 

[00:00:33] JP: Then we chat with Jacob Rogers, Senior Legal Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, about what we need to know about the upcoming licensing changes to Elasticsearch and Kibana.

 

[00:00:42] JR: Their blog post on this was called “Doubling Down on Open”. But it is unequivocally clear that they took away some rights from users.

 

[00:00:51] SY: So last week, we talked about the Alphabet Workers Union and spoke to Alex Gorowara, Senior Software Engineer at Google and Spokesperson for the Union, about its current state and its goals. Here’s a little snippet from that interview.

 

[00:01:04] AG: The mission of the union is to listen to its members. We are not starting off with a specific slate of demands. We are starting off with a commitment to worker democracy. And when the base of voters, as it were, the people in the union has expanded fourfold in the past month, figuring that out is our next mission.

 

[00:01:27] SY: And this week, there’s a bit of related news that we wanted to highlight. There’s now another union of Google workers from across 10 different countries, including the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom called “Alpha Global”. It’s kind of a super union composed of 13 different unions and is affiliated with UNI Global Union, which has also aided in organizing Amazon workers. We’ll post the exclusive from The Verge in our show notes. And you should definitely take a listen to our interview last week with Alex Gorowara for more context about the Alphabet Workers Union.

 

[00:02:01] JP: I love the idea of a super union.

 

[00:02:03] SY: I love the idea of a super union. I don’t know that was a thing, by the way. I don’t know there were unions to organize unions.

 

[00:02:07] JP: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I guess it makes sense because different countries have different laws about how a union is formed, if it has to be within that particular country to be officially recognized, et cetera. So I guess that kind of makes sense, kind of like a company will have like multiple company subsidiaries.

 

[00:02:25] SY: Yes. I was literally going to say the same thing. If you have companies in different countries, like they are actually separate companies. It’s not one company with different offices. I mean, it is offices, but you know what I mean. It still needs to be established separately. And it’s really interesting because I can imagine them being stronger with the help of a union who already has experience working in other companies. Right? So the idea that, I don’t know if it’s UNI or UNI Global Union, the fact that they’ve organized Amazon workers, there’s a huge conversation that we could have there, unionize the Amazon workers. I’m sure it gives a lot more strength and a lot more credibility to the Alphabet Workers. So I think this sounds like a great move for them.

 

[00:03:10] JP: Yeah. It’s really exciting to see. I’m still kind of bummed though that these are all still minority unions. And I know with a company as large as Alphabet, it’d be really, really hard to have a non-minority union, because from what I understand, that basically means everybody that works there has to opt into a union. I’m not a labor union specialist. So don’t ask me. But one of the things we talked about with Alex Gorowara last week was that as a minority union, they could exert some pressure and they’ve got an organization that they can let their demands be known, but there’s no legal bargaining power there.

 

[00:03:47] AG: So there are some unions which are recognized formally by the NLRB and by the National Labor Relations Act and they have some bargaining power that is enshrined in law. There is some sort of legal mandate for employers to negotiate with them, where we are different is we are not claiming that we represent a majority of Alphabet Workers, although we’d love to get there one day, and we are not asserting a legal right to bargain with Alphabet executives. We are not asserting a specific legal structure. We are saying that because we are workers, because we are the people who make Alphabet run and we’re representing increasingly more of these folks day by day, we’re saying that our power as workers is what makes us worth listening to.

 

[00:04:38] JP: And that in some ways kind of like really limits what kind of changes can come out of it, but it’s a good first step.

 

[00:04:45] SY: Definitely a good first step. And that’s, hopefully, lessons they’ll learn along the way and find different ways to strengthen their position and increase their bargaining powers. So hopefully, they’re on their way to something really different in the tech industry, for sure, and something that really helps workers, whether it’s full-time contractors, employees, I’m really excited for their future.

 

[00:05:05] JP: I love that part of the union organization as well is that it is also contract workers and part-time workers. Especially in the tech industry, contract workers are such a huge part of the workforce and they could be overlooked.

 

[00:05:16] SY: Yes, absolutely. I think with Google, isn’t it half of their employees are contractors? I don’t know if it was half or close to that, but it was a lot. It was definitely a lot more than I thought.

 

[00:05:24] JP: Yeah, it’s a lot. Yeah. So more Google news. The company has proposed an alternative to cookies. So just a refresher, cookies are small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s computer by their web browser. They were originally intended to save stateful information such as if a user is logged into a website or if they’ve added items to an online cart today. Today, tracking cookies are heavily relied upon by ad networks to track a user’s activity online and build out profiles of the user from their traffic. A lot of times this data is bought and sold for the purposes of slinging targeted ads at you. Well, Google’s alternative is a part of their Privacy Sandbox initiative. Right now, it’s a Chrome extension called “Federated Learning of Cohorts”. And apparently, it’s more privacy friendly than cookies. The way it works is by using machine learning on a local device to analyze the data that’s generated by users as they surf the web, and then it groups them into giant buckets of thousands of users. Your local data isn’t shared, but the buckets of users are still able to be sold as anonymous bundles for the purpose of targeting ads. An example that was pointed out was Google previously did something similar to this with their Gboard Keyboard extension. As users would use the Gboard extension, spelling errors were corrected and suggestions were made locally on each device. And that was used to build up an anonymized global set of typing suggestions without each individual users type strokes being sent to a centralized server. This is interesting. And I don’t necessarily think it’s interesting because of the technical implementation of the replacement for cookies. But I think it’s interesting because Google is desperately trying to find a way to solve the privacy concerns with tracking cookies and yet keep their ability to target and sell advertising. And those are kind of two incompatible goals most of the time.

 

[00:07:21] SY: Yeah. I find this entire thing very suspicious. Okay. So here’s my take on privacy. I don’t feel like people actually care about privacy. I think we like to complain about privacy. I think we like to do our hashtags and our tweet storms and our Twitter threads about how everyone’s invading privacy. But ultimately, I don’t believe that the discourse on privacy is actually changing most user’s behavior in any significant way that would impact these businesses. I just don’t think that’s true and I think it’s because these services are really good. And a lot of times they’re the only good service and it’s really hard to get away from them and they’re really sticky and they work. Frankly, a lot of the targeting and privacy concerns that are bad for you also kind of make it a unique experience, which can make it really hard to leave. So I think they’ve done such a good job of providing value and stickiness and addiction that I just don’t think that the outcries of privacy are really going to do much good. So it’s kind of like, “Is Google really concerned about privacy? Or do they want to look like they’re concerned about privacy? Is it more of a marketing thing?” And I just don’t believe that an increase in privacy helps Google. So this whole thing, it’s just very suspicious to me.

 

[00:08:42] JP: I think one of the things Google is really concerned about is not so much privacy, but the door being closed on their ability to track users for ad revenue. Apple in the latest versions of Safari on both macOS and iOS is opting out of cookies by default. And that shuts off a huge swath of the public that was kind of automatically having their motions recorded and being tracked by the tracking cookies. Those are all kind of get blocked by default now. And Google makes more money by targeted ads. If you take out an ad on an ad network and you say, “I just want to show this to a thousand people,” you get charged one rate. But if you say, “I want to show this to a thousand people, but I only wanted to show it to people between 25 and 35 that have been looking for vacation fairs to the Caribbean,” you pay much more per impression on those kinds of ad impressions. And if the tracking cookies go away, ad networks lose their ability to create those segments. And that’s the thing, I think I do agree with you somewhat about privacy and stickiness and how it has benefited us. I don’t think a lot of people really, really care. But one thing I’ve heard online that people super care about is the idea that their visits are being tracked from site to site and that advertisers are using that. And I think that’s top of mind for a lot of people because you see it reflected immediately. You go to a website for shoes and all of a sudden you have nothing but shoe ads showing up in your Instagram feed or you bought a mattress and now you have nothing but mattress ads for the rest of your life. And it’s that one-to-one correlation that happens so close to each other that I think pops at the top of mind for a lot of people.

 

[00:10:22] SY: Yeah, I get that. I mean, if it threatens their business, they’re definitely going to act on it. So that to me makes a lot of sense. If cookies are being stripped by default and are being blocked by default, then having this newer way does make sense. And I think that it is, I guess, smart for them to come up with something that might potentially be the standard because it sounds like this is something they probably want other people to use and leverage. And I think that making it a standard way of doing things also definitely supports their business. So I think that’s really smart.

 

[00:10:53] JP: Yeah. I just can’t see Apple going for it. The thing that really fascinated me that is a plugin that you install in Chrome, and I know if like a box popped up in Chrome and said, “Hey, do you want to use your local processing power to sort through a bunch of data and send it to us so we can sell ads for more money?” I’d be like, “No. That sounds terrible. I don’t want to opt in to that.”

 

[00:11:15] SY: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

 

[00:11:17] JP: Well, I guess we’ll find out what happens. Google has said that this is kind of a beta thing they’re looking at right now. Nothing has been released and they’ve also noted this is one of several approaches they’re looking at. So I don’t think they’re done trying to figure out how to get around the issue of tracking cookies being blocked.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

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[00:12:38] SY: So this is a bit of heartwarming news. The new Biden administration came and updated White House’s website with a bunch of new accessibility features. Some of the most apparent ones are a light and dark mode switcher, a larger font size toggle, and a more easily navigable mobile version menu. I’m hoping this trend will continue and even more accessibility features will be prioritized and implemented. It also reminds me of an interview I did on the CodeNewbie Podcast back in early 2020, where we spoke to Aidan Feldman, Technology Director at Technology Transformation Services. His work is to support initiatives that transform how the government uses technology. And we talked a lot about why a lot of government websites can be difficult to navigate and the challenges with developing for civic tech.

 

[00:13:25] AF: The things that make it a bad experience are obvious, “Oh, it doesn’t work on your phone. It doesn’t have clear instructions.” Those kinds of things. I think the more interesting question is, “Why is it that way?”

 

[00:13:35] SY: Right. Yeah.

 

[00:13:36] AF: So one major issue is a lot of these systems are legacy, right? They’ve been around for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, right? Like running on a mainframe and maybe no one’s around that knows how it works anymore. So even if you wanted to update it, you can’t, like no one knows how or you have to hire very expensive contractors who know COBOL in order to do so or we could get someone to work on it, but the government actually employs relatively few software developers or designers, these sort of subject matter experts. Okay, you have to go and hire people through contracts, and we don’t know what to ask for. And so we could get into a bad situation where the contractor isn’t putting users’ needs first or they’re kind of maintaining the system, but not improving it because we didn’t know to ask for that. So I think that lack of technical expertise on the inside despite best intentions can really be a shortcoming. There’s problems around like any change requiring major security compliance obstacles. That can be a big problem. And even if you did want to hire people to do all these things, hiring is really complicated and slow and doesn’t pay as well as the private sector. So there’s all these reasons why it makes it hard to improve those experiences, which everyone inside and outside know are bad.

 

[00:15:11] SY: So it’s really great to see shifts like this because government websites can be so important and historically pretty archaic and its approaches and technologies. They’re usually so bad. I also want to give a shout out to Rita Correia for writing a post on Dev titled “Web Accessibility: Improvements on the White House Website” that inspired this story. Her post will be in the show notes. I think what’s really exciting about these changes is frankly how quickly they happen. It kind of makes you wonder, “How long have you been working on this?” Because Biden’s only been president for not like seven days.

 

[00:15:45] JP: Oh, that’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought about that.

 

[00:15:48] SY: It just happened. I feel like the developers have this on the back burner for like a really long time where like, “You just wait. If Biden becomes president, we’re going to push this update. It’s going to be great.” That must be what happened.

 

[00:16:00] JP: I wonder if the website staff is appointed by Biden or if they are workers that stay in between administrations. If that’s the case, then I can imagine they might’ve had the stuff ready to go.

 

[00:16:16] SY: Otherwise, they worked really fast. That’s really impressive.

 

[00:16:18] JP: Yeah. Wow!

 

[00:16:19] SY: And if they worked fast, that means that they prioritized this, right? Because I’m sure there were a hundred other things they could be doing in the first seven days of any administration. Instead of those things, they push this one, which is great.

 

[00:16:32] JP: It’s basic stuff, but it kind of underscores where their priorities are.

 

[00:16:38] SY: Exactly. Exactly.

 

[00:16:38] JP: I think it’s great. They also had pledged to adhere to some web content accessibility guidelines in the future. So things like alt text on pictures. They also get a really cool message in the source code saying like, “If you want to help us improve, apply here to work on the website.”

 

[00:16:54] SY: Oh, cool!

 

[00:16:55] JP: It’s really cool stuff. Yeah. I was thinking about this the other day. I’m not one to call for regulation, but doesn’t it seem like it would be like a good idea for our government’s websites to be accessible to everybody that lives in our country? That just seems like kind of a basic access, right?

 

[00:17:12] SY: Totally.

 

[00:17:14] JP: Businesses need to have, in most cases, accessibility, affordances for people that are differently abled. I think our website should have the same.

 

[00:17:24] SY: I completely agree with that. Coming up next, we chat with Jacob Rogers, Senior Legal Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, and the things we need to know about upcoming licensing changes to Elasticsearch and Kibana after this.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

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[00:18:57] SY: Here with us is Jacob Rogers, Senior Legal Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. Thank you so much for being here.

 

[00:19:04] JR: Yeah. It’s good to be here.

 

[00:19:06] SY: To get started, tell us a bit about your career background and your role at the Wikimedia Foundation.

 

[00:19:10] JR: I’ve been at the Wikimedia Foundation for a little over six years now. I’ve worn a bunch of hats there, but my particular specialty since law school has been in studying intellectual property of various sorts, have been particularly focused on issues of copyright law and technology. I was a big D&D nerd before that. So I got really into dealing with online role-playing games and being able to share differently licensed game rules and things like that. So even before I started law school, I was pretty interested in these kinds of topics.

 

[00:19:40] JP: So you’re the perfect person for us to talk about our topic this week. Last week, Elastic published a post on their blog entitled, “Doubling Down on Open, Part II”. Could you talk a little bit about what they were announcing?

 

[00:19:53] JR: Yeah. So they were announcing a change to the licensing for their Elasticsearch and Kibana programs. These are programs that have been open-source licensed under the Apache 2.0 license, which makes them generally available for anybody to use for any purpose and they do search function. So different websites can use them to be able to search stuff on a website and be able to find different information as well as to keep logs of how the website is working and do things like security or making sure that your website is running properly.

 

[00:20:25] SY: Can we talk a bit about what Elastic actually is?  What does it mean that it isn’t going to be under the Apache 2.0 license anymore? Tell us more about that.

 

[00:20:34] JR: So Elastic is essentially like a program that allows for running these kinds of searches on websites. I don’t know the complete details of how it functions. But at a broad scale, if somebody goes to any search bar on any website and they start typing something in, the website needs some kind of way to actually search itself, look through, and actually give you some kind of results. So you type the article, I don’t know, for Paris and nobody knows whether you’re searching for the city or for Paris Hilton or any one of the myriad other things. Maybe you get Paris, Ohio even. And so it needs to be able to know that all those results exist, find them, and show them to you in some way. And Elastic is a program that is helping to do that on a website. Changing the license. So under Apache 2.0, anybody could use it for any reason. You just had to keep the licensing text with it. So if you were a regular person designing a new website, you could use Elastic to do this. If you were a big business and you were designing a website, you could use Elastic. If you were Amazon, which is kind of the key of the reason for this change, you could incorporate Elastic into your service offerings for Amazon web services to make your equipment work better for all the people that wanted to host stuff on Amazon web services. And the change that they’ve made here, going from Apache to what’s called the Server Side Public License, SSPL, is there are limitations now on being able to use these Elasticsearch and Kibana programs with big service offerings. So if you’re offering something like Amazon Web Services or other cloud services, you’re not able to use this with your business in the same way as you used to be.

 

[00:22:16] JP: So the main reason Elastic gives for this change is unfair competition from Amazon Web Services. And they, as you mentioned, released Amazon Elasticsearch service back in 2015. Amazon said they originally built this around the more permissive open source Elastic license. So can you talk about how a company could build around that open-source license and whether you think Elastic’s decision to change the licensing is warranted?

 

[00:22:45] JR: So building around an open source license is something that a lot of folks do. And one of the interesting things about big tech today is actually that a lot of it is built on open source technology. So 20 years ago, the Open Source Movement was pushing people to be open source. Most things were written in proprietary code. And now today, a lot of the big companies actually really committed to open source principles. And so they’ve built their stuff on open source. What it means to build on open source, there is like a definition that the open source initiative and the Free Software Foundation both have slightly different definitions, but the one from the Open Source Initiative has a number of different points. I’m not going to read you all 10, but broadly speaking, something being open source means that the code is available so people can inspect the code. They can copy the code. They can obtain it for themselves. They can make changes to it and they can use it themselves for any purpose. So when there is an open source program, that means anybody can just go get it and do what they want with it. There may be some limitations like keeping the license with it and there are some open source licenses that all have what’s called the “Copyleft Additions”, meaning that they also require that the stuff you do with them, like if you add your own work to it, it has to stay open source. Apache though is not that kind of license. Apache, you can take a piece of code and run a particular program, but you can combine that with other stuff in your own work. It doesn’t have to be open source as well. So when Amazon does is they run a proprietary platform, Amazon Web Services, but a number of its features and functions are open source and a lot of what they create, they actually do license as open source so other people can use it if they, I don’t know, to start their own cloud hosting platform, for example.

 

[00:24:26] SY: What are the major differences between the Apache 2.0 license and the new licenses that will be available under the SSPL and the Elastic license?

 

[00:24:35] JR: So the Apache 2.0 license is pretty detailed, but in broad strokes, it says, “This program is freely available. It is not limited by copyright laws. You can copy it freely.” It’s not limited by patents. So you can use it and use the technology that the program encompasses and nobody will sue you for patent infringement and it is able to be reused and remixed and edited and changed. And as long as you can keep the licensing and go with it and relicense your changes under the Apache 2.0 license, you are fine. And you can combine it with other stuff and you don’t have to license all the other stuff that you do under Apache 2.0. As an example of that, Wikimedia has some stuff where like the MediaWiki software that we make is under a GPL license, which is a different, more copyleft focused one, but there are individual Apache modules that people can write and include in MediaWiki and they can work together. Switching to the SSPL put some particular limitations on it. So the SSPL has some things saying like you can’t just convey the source code via cloud services and it requires in particular than if you’re conveying the source code that you convey it to someone with everything required for them to operate exactly what you are operating. To put that in slightly easier English, it would be like if you’re Amazon and you’ve put something that is an SSPL license program on Amazon Web Services, in order to then offer that to the world, you would not only have to give them the SSPL thing. You would also have to give them all of the proprietary code that you have for making Amazon Web Services function and they likely don’t want to do that.

 

[00:26:15] JP: Do you think there are any other alternatives Elastic could have done instead of moving to these different licenses?

 

[00:26:21] JR: I’m not sure. The question here is really around their business model. So I think that the alternatives aren’t so much around the technology licensing as like how Elastic makes money and what makes sense for them to be doing as a business. A lot of the complaints that have been coming out of the open source side of this are that Elastic is being a little bit misleading in what they’re saying. Like their blog post on this was called “Doubling Down on Open”, but it is unequivocally clear that they took away some rights from users. You used to be able to use this code for any reason you wanted and now there are some uses that are limited and put extra restrictions on you if you are a user that is offering cloud services. So it is just less free than it used to be. That’s okay, though, if that’s what they need for their business. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. People just don’t like that it is like misleadingly suggesting that it is in some way more free or more open. I think this gets into a question of what the purpose of all of this is, like having open source is good because it helps people with software development. It helps make sure that there are lots of eyes on a problem. The famous Linus Torvalds quote, if I’m remembering right, is, “Many eyes make all bugs shallow.” And so having open development, letting people check your work, letting the public look at things when there’s a problem makes for better software. The people that are contributing to the software want their work to be freely available. They’re often doing it as volunteers and they’re doing it to try and make the world better. So they want to make it freely available for everyone to use and benefit from. Businesses obviously need some limitations so that they can make money. And the question is often how those limitations are done. Earlier, open source often involves offering like the service. So you’d have this complex software, but then you could be the one to actually make it run and make it easy for some other company to do something and you could make money by offering that software as a service, by offering support for it, by offering extra features. Maybe Amazon kind of cannibalizes on that. Amazon Web Services is hosting somewhere close to half the internet these days and they are very convenient for a lot of folks. They make it really easy to use. And so I think a lot of people feel like that is cannibalizing everybody else’s business. But having Amazon doing that does keep the code free. It makes it more available for other users. I think a lot of the people who were the actual writers who made these contributions to code and helped sustain these open source projects, what they care about is that the code is freely available for everybody to use. And the fact that Amazon is using it isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s just that it should be available for everyone, including Amazon.

 

[00:29:00] SY: So in response to this decision by Elastic, AWS announced that they will fork the project and keep it under the old Apache 2.0 license, which sounds problematic, maybe illegal. And I know technically it’s not illegal, but how is this legal?

 

[00:29:16] JR: So forking a project is legal. What forking means is that you start with, let’s say you’ve got the point where it splits. So Elastic is going from Apache 2.0 to SSPL. That doesn’t erase the history of it being under Apache 2.0. So of the exact date before they switched, it was all available in its most current version under Apache 2.0. Somebody else says, “Okay, cool. I’m going to take this Apache 2.0 thing. I’ll rename it. So it’s not going to have the trademarks of Elastic or Kibana on it necessarily. But once you rename it, so nobody’s confused, you’ve got this piece of code that is freely available for anybody to use and a new group of people can just start working on it and continue to license it under Apache 2.0. This has always been kind of an option in lots of different software. It’s just like you’ve got a program and you can take it in different directions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with forking. The challenge is not so much a legal one as a community one. Now you’ve got two versions of the same thing. They’re under different licenses. If I’m an engineer and I decided that I’m interested in contributing to the code base for good effective search programs, I now have to decide where I’m going to put my time. Am I going to go do work for Elastic? Or am I going to go do work for Amazon’s version? That’s a tough choice, potentially. I mean you might not care, but if you are really idealistic in your vision, you might not feel great about either of these. On the one hand, you’re supporting a really big company that you might have some concerns about just because of its size and history. And on the other hand, you’re supporting a smaller company, but you’re supporting something that isn’t as free as you might like if you have a really idealistic vision of the open source principles. You can make a third fork that is purely for the public good, but then there’s even fewer people that can work on it. And what tends to happen over time when programs are forked is people start making changes, they diverge, you can imagine it kind of like building up like layers of stone or something like that. So after some years of something being forced, the two things are going to be not very similar anymore. There’ll be lots of little differences, little quirks from different code writers and it’s going to be hard for them to come back together or for one person to work on both of them because they won’t look the same.

 

[00:31:29] JP: How do you think Elastic’s decision will affect Amazon?

 

[00:31:33] JR: That’s hard to say. I think Amazon probably has all of the functionality that they need from this and they probably have the staff to help maintain this, even if there isn’t a lot of public interest in contributing to their free version. I actually suspect there might even be some public interest in contributing to their free version. There’s probably a lot of folks that feel like Amazon is making the right choice here. I don’t know how the community will ultimately split, but I would say like at least a substantial minority. So they probably will get some folks working on that and they have the money to continue working on it themselves if they need to. So I don’t see this having like a big impact on their overall business capabilities. It may affect their reputation in the overall open source community in various ways and I think that’s pretty hard to predict.

 

[00:32:20] JP: Is there anything else you think we should talk about that we haven’t covered yet?

 

[00:32:24] JR: I think maybe like a broad strokes point on this is just the question of what it means to be open source right now. The OSI has a strong and very clear definition about all of these things being reused, but we’ve seen in other contexts that what the goal of this is can vary. For me coming from Wikimedia, we host Wikipedia, which has a different set of licenses for the encyclopedia text. These are non-code licenses, Creative Commons licenses. And Wikipedia has similar principles around open source. The text on Wikipedia is freely available for anyone to use for any purpose. But Creative Commons actually has a big range of licenses. So you can write something and say, “This is freely available for anyone, but you can’t alter it. You need to keep it exactly as it is.” Or you can say, “This is freely available to anyone, but you can only use it for non-commercial purposes.” And those are considered less free, but sometimes people really like that kind of license because it allows them to accomplish a purpose they want, to like make something free for everyone, but not to benefit commercial work. There’s just different philosophies there. I think that what the Elastic is going for here is an idea of where everybody individually can see their code, can even use their code, and make changes to their code, but they don’t want their business to be cannibalized by large companies. And it’s not a software licensing question. It’s like a question about what you want the world to look like. Do you want large companies to be the ones that are doing a lot of this work? Do you want something that limits them in some way? Do you want something that forces things to be more individual or broken up or smaller? That is a separate question from the exact definition of open source or whether these licenses qualify as open source. And really I think it’s most important that people are clear about what they’re going for and not misleading.

 

[00:34:16] SY: Thank you so much for joining us.

 

[00:34:17] JR: Yeah. Glad to be here.

 

[00:34:29] SY: Thank you for listening to DevNews. This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. Editorial oversight by Peter Frank, Ben Halpern, and Jess Lee. Our theme music is by Dan Powell. If you have any questions or comments, dial into our Google Voice at +1 (929) 500-1513 or email us at [email protected].to. Please rate and subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts.