In source code for a project released by Amazon.com Inc., awslabs/amazon-redshift-utils, an "Open Source"-like license is found with questionable stipulations, particularly section 3.3:

3.3 Use Limitation. The Work and any derivative works thereof only may be used or intended for use with the web services, computing platforms or applications provided by Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates, including Amazon Web Services, Inc.

The included LICENSE.txt file appears to be very similar to other Open Source licenses, however it also seems that Amazon is trying to limit usage of any and all derivative works to be used only with their own paid software products and services.

Is this legal or enforceable that a company can release "free" software which is "locked-in" to that company and only to be used when it serves to increase the profit of said company?

The full text of the license may be found here and also here.

1 Answer 1


If Amazon writes the code, they can release it under any licence(s) they choose, including fully-free and fully-proprietary licences, or not release it at all.

The cognitive disconnect here is that you've looked at the licence, seen that it has a lot of the "dress and feel" of free licences, decided that the software must therefore be free, and are then surprised that there are limitations on the use of the software.

The error is in concluding that this is free software. The licence does not give all of the four freedoms; specifically, it does not give freedom one, the right to use the software for any purpose.

It isn't free software, no matter what you think it looks like.

  • 3
    Nor open source, for those who care.
    – vonbrand
    Mar 1, 2016 at 19:36
  • Indeed. The open source is a buzzword that gets labeled to pretty much every code that is openly released. open source doesn't mean you are free to take it and use it. That's the reason we should be using Libre more often to describe free software. Mar 8, 2016 at 18:05
  • @vonbrand Open source it is because its source code is openly available on Github. Its a separate matter that its not approved by FSF/OSI since it doesn't come under their definition of open source. Mar 8, 2016 at 18:06
  • 2
    @PrahladYeri, let's keep our ducks in a row. "Open source" is defined by the Open Source Initiative. Legally, it has no claim on the term, but it is best to use the terms as most people understand them. This "you can only look at the source" is often called "Source Available" or something similar, and there are also licenses (e.g. by Microsoft and Amazon) that restrict the use of the code to run on a particular platform, or many others. None are really open for use.
    – vonbrand
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:11
  • 1
    People! There are many places to have discussions about topics - the comments section of an answer might not be the best option. You can always use the chat rooms. Keep comments for constructive discussion about the contents of a post. @MadHatter If you feel that it escalates, or comments continues, feel free to raise a custom moderator flag on the post.
    – Zizouz212
    Mar 9, 2016 at 0:56

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