FAQ on 2021 License Change

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01/15 09:36
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We are moving our Apache 2.0-licensed source code in Elasticsearch and Kibana to be dual licensed under Server Side Public License (SSPL) and the Elastic License, giving users the choice of which license to apply. This license change ensures our community and customers have free and open access to use, modify, redistribute, and collaborate on the code. It also protects our continued investment in developing products that we distribute for free and in the open by restricting cloud service providers from offering Elasticsearch and Kibana as a service without contributing back. This will apply to all maintained branches of these two products starting with the 7.11 release. Our releases will continue to be under the Elastic License.


Summary of licensing change



Can you summarize the changes?

We are changing the Apache 2.0-licensed source code of Elasticsearch and Kibana to be dual licensed under SSPL 1.0 and the Elastic License, giving users the choice of which license to apply. Our default distribution will continue to be under the Elastic License as it has been for nearly the last three years, and we will no longer produce an Apache 2.0 distribution.



Why is Elastic making this change?

This change ensures that our community and customers have free and open access to use, modify, redistribute, and collaborate on Elasticsearch and Kibana source code. It also protects our continued investment in developing products that we distribute for free and in the open by restricting cloud service providers from offering our products as a service without sharing their modifications and the source code of their service management layers.



I'm a user, how does this affect me?

If you download and use our default distribution of Elasticsearch and Kibana, nothing changes for you. Our default distribution continues to be free and open under the Elastic License, as it has been for nearly the last three years. If you build applications on top of Elasticsearch, nothing changes for you. Our client libraries continue to be licensed under Apache 2.0. If you use plugins on top of Elasticsearch or Kibana, nothing changes for you.



I contribute to Elasticsearch and/or Kibana, how does this affect me?

Thank you! You can continue to contribute to Elasticsearch and Kibana as you always have, whether that code is under SSPL or the Elastic License. To learn more about how to contribute, see our contributor guide.



I'm a customer or partner, how does this affect me?

Customers and partners using our products in Elastic Cloud or under a self-managed subscription are not affected by this change.



I embed a modified version of Elasticsearch and/or Kibana into my product, how does this affect me?

If you’re already a customer or have an agreement to redistribute our default distribution, there is no change. If not, please reach out to us at elastic_license@elastic.co.



How does dual licensing work?

The Apache 2.0-licensed source code of Elasticsearch and Kibana will be changed to be dual licensed under SSPL and the Elastic License. This means that when using the source code, you can choose which set of terms and conditions will best meet your needs. Our default distribution will continue to be published under the Elastic License as it has been for nearly the last three years, so if you are not using the source code directly, this does not affect you.



What is SSPL and how does it work?

SSPL is a source-available license originally created by MongoDB, who set out to craft a license that embodied the ideals of open source, allowing free and unrestricted use, modification, and redistribution, with the simple requirement that if you provide the product as a service to others, you must also publicly release any modifications as well as the source code of your management layers under SSPL.

SSPL is based on GPLv3, and is considered a copyleft license. This means that if you use the source code and create derivative works, those derivative works must also be licensed under SSPL and released publicly. For more information, MongoDB has a good FAQ.



What versions does this change apply to?

This change only affects the source code — our releases will continue to be free and open under the Elastic License. This change will apply to all maintained branches of our software — 6.8, 7.x and master/8.0, and will take place before the 7.11 release is generally available.



Will there be license changes to products other than Elasticsearch and Kibana?

No, we are only making this licensing change to Elasticsearch and Kibana — no other products will be impacted. However, we have always wanted to make our data collection and shipping components as free and easily accessible as possible. By protecting our investments in Elasticsearch and Kibana, this change allows us to make our other products even more open. We will consider migrating even more features of Beats, Agent, and Logstash to be licensed under Apache 2.0. If we decide to make any additional changes, we will communicate them separately.



Will Elastic continue to develop open source software?

Our commitments to the principles of open source have not changed at all — we always have and always will value transparency, collaboration, and community. Many of our products and projects continue to be under Apache 2.0, including our client libraries, Beats, Logstash, as well as standards like Elastic Common Schema. We will also continue to contribute to other open source projects, like Apache Lucene and other projects as we have always done.



I’m using Elasticsearch as a service from a cloud provider, how does this change affect me?

Public cloud providers will need to comply with SSPL or the Elastic License if they wish to provide a version of Elasticsearch and Kibana that is released after this change.



I'm using Elasticsearch via APIs, how does this change affect me?

This change does not affect how you use client libraries to access Elasticsearch. Our client libraries remain licensed under Apache 2.0, with the exception of our Java High Level Rest Client (Java HLRC).

The Java HLRC has dependencies on the core of Elasticsearch, and as a result this client library will be licensed under the Elastic License. Over time, we will eliminate this dependency and move the Java HLRC to be licensed under Apache 2.0. Until that time, for the avoidance of doubt, we do not consider using the Java HLRC as a client library in development of an application or library used to access Elasticsearch to constitute a derivative work under the Elastic License, and this will not have any impact on how you license the source code of your application using this client library or how you distribute it.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at elastic_license@elastic.co



I’m building plugins for Elasticsearch or Kibana, how does this change affect me?

This change does not affect how you build or license plugins to Elasticsearch or Kibana. For the avoidance of doubt, building a plugin to be used in Elasticsearch or Kibana does not constitute a derivative work, and will not have any impact on how you license the source code of your plugin.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at elastic_license@elastic.co

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