If I was building an open-source solution and wanted to create a hosted version as the business side of things.
What license would be best for me to use?

Preferably allowing:

  • Other users to use the open-source solution for personal or even internally (for a company) without any warranty or liability.
  • But not for commercial use of the software like the hosted solution (to remove direct competitors). Or at least not be able to say that they are the "official hosted" solution.

What are the pros and cons? Do you think I should reconsider the 2nd point?

Note: I'm sorry if what I am asking is too business-oriented, please help me see things differently then.


Open source licenses are not allowed to discriminate against fields of endeavor. That means you cannot use an open source license for your code and use that license to prevent competitors from opening shop.

Some things that are possible with various open source licenses are:

  • The AGPL requires that modified versions must be under the AGPL license and their source code must be offered to those that receive the binary and those that interact with it over a network. That means that if a competitor uses and improves your software, you get to use those improvements as well in your hosting solution. This does not prevent competition, but any competitor must outbid you on marketing and/or the price/quality ratio of their subscription plan.

  • The Apache 2.0 license has a mechanism for giving attribution beyond the normal copyright notices (the NOTICES file). This mechanism could be used to direct people to your hosting solution as the "official" hosting solution.

  • What about MongoDB's solution? how would that fit in your answer?
    – funerr
    Jan 11 at 10:35
  • 2
    The SSPL license of MongoDB is not recognized as an open source license and it has some points where I doubt it can actually be enforced (but you probably need deep pockets to take that risk). Jan 11 at 10:50

You could choose any license. As the copyright holder, you are free to do whatever you want with your own software.

  • 2
    Yes, but I want the license to achieve the goals I've written about. I do not know any license that would work in the case I wrote. Only GPL is close, but telling people to open source their code might not be the right fit in some cases.
    – funerr
    Jan 10 at 0:03
  • Or at least not be able to say that they are the "official hosted" solution. Even the MIT license requires that you preserve the license and copyright notices.
    – JNic
    Jan 10 at 0:07
  • 1
    That is just one idea I had, but what other solutions does a support-hosted business have?
    – funerr
    Jan 10 at 0:08
  • 1
    The AGPL is great, but you said you did not want a copyleft license.
    – JNic
    Jan 10 at 0:09
  • 1
    I'll check it out. Explaining/Directing-to the options would be great.
    – funerr
    Jan 10 at 0:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.