how is it illegal for AWS to “steal” an open-source project and claim as theirs
The “steal” phrase came from your previous comment, I was mirroring your word use- but I probably wasn’t clear that I was using it in a bit of a ironic way. It would be almost impossible for AWS to steal BSD licensed code. Even infringing the copyright would be hard, given the extremely liberal terms. And that is the point I was making. My apologies for not being more clear, that part of my comment probably came off a bit more aggressive than I intended it to be.
What solutions are there?
Well, lets first define the exact nature of the problem. I don’t think that Sentry has done a great job of outlining why they think this move is necessary. Perhaps a follow-up from @zeeg could clarify better what challenges they are actually facing? I don’t know of any major platform provider that is offering Sentry as a Service? Some smaller players seem to have- but it seems like as of a few years ago, Sentry wasn’t too concerned with this. What has changed since Oct 2016? (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12800539)
The Above FAQ mentions Sentry’s size- but as I believe was rightly pointed out by Sentry’s CEO in 2016 (above HN link), their size is a strength and protection to them against competition simply re-using their code to offer a competing service.
From the above FAQ:
Some recent events have shown that there is potential to abuse our hard work through the very permissive BSD license.
But there is no explanation of what these recent events are… it does seem that this is a move based primarily on fear, based on this comment.
Every company is different, and business models need to take into account the unique position of the company, as such, proposing an alternative solution when the problem isn’t clear would not be very productive. (Though arm chair quarterbacking can be a fun and some times useful exercise- it is of little value to the team on the field!)
However, I will point out a few open source businesses that have found models that work well for them:
Gitlab (as @kencjohnson can attest) has taken the popular
“Open Core” approach of releasing a core product as open source and selling hosting as well as additional proprietary “enterprise” features. This model can be dangerous, as companies can be incentivized to cut way back on the features they open source, and even refuse contributions that would compete with their closed source product. Gitlab has done a pretty good job of striking a balance here, and I would recommend anyone considering this approach to look closely at what they have done. However, I still find it to be sub-optimal in general, and I evaluate open core software with an extra bit of caution regarding these issues. I want to see a strong community that won’t put up with any BS from the company (Gitlab has a pretty good community in this regard!)
Sell Services: Redhat has mastered this business model. They contribute massively to open source- they have even bought companies like Ansible and open source thier previously closed source product! (It took them a while to open it, but they finally did it!). Canonical uses this model as well- though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, s Canonical does have some proprietary software they sell (Landscape), but I still like Canonical a lot. Study these companies and learn from them!
SaaS model: Automatic does this with their popular Wordpress software. They operate a SasS service hosting wordpress sites. I chose Automatic as my example here because the Wordpress ecosystem is so strong and the company does well. There are many third parties offering to host wordpress as a service. But Automatic does just fine as a stand-alone hosting service. This is another great model! It seems to be the model that Sentry had previously used. What went wrong? I don’t know.
Foundation + Many companies and individual contributors providing services and contributions: These are my favorite open source operating models! I find projects backed by strong foundations that have many companies contributing to be the healthiest. Projects like Linux, Python, Django, Firefox, various Apache projects, LibreOffice, Postgres, even Kubernetes! Google even open sourced Kubernetes, donated it to a foundation, and continues to be a large contributor- while offering their own version of the service to customers! This is hard to build, and not every project will be successful in going this route.
Hybrid models: Many of the companies mentioned here actually use some hybrid mix of these models.
Create your own: There is lots of room for innovation in software business models! I really should start a blog so that I can elaborate more on these issues- as it seems like an increasing concern in the open source community. Then I could stop wasting space on other companies websites