In this post, I’d like to tell you about some changes and updates to our open source and commercial licensing strategy.
First, effective today, we will be using the AGPL open source license instead of the GPL open source license for all of our open source software. When we made the decision to use the GPLv3 license several years ago, the GPL seemed like a good fit for our needs as we were trying to promote a community that shares their work, rather than going with a more permissive style license that allows individuals to keep enhancements private. The AGPL is in keeping with that spirit and makes clear that use in a SaaS implementation is also considered a distribution and thus must fully comply with the GPL. The proposed changes were discussed on our mailing lists and the NuPIC community is supportive of this change. Note that the AGPLv3 is explicitly designed to be the same as the GPLv3 with the additional of the SaaS clarification, and will not impact open source developers in any other way.
Second, we have heard from potential customers that some companies have prohibitions against their engineers using either the GPL or the AGPL. Consequently, we have created a very simple Trial License. The Trial License confers no commercial rights, but allows research and experimentation with NuPIC software without being required to use an open source license.
Finally, as you may know, we have a dual license strategy for NuPIC in that we offer commercial licenses in addition to our open source license. Recently, we have had an increase in requests for commercial licenses to the point where we would like to create a standard licensing program. We are in the process of documenting this program to be released in the next few weeks. We plan on having two types of license, one geared towards start-up companies formed specifically to create HTM applications (with no up-front payments and a delayed royalty stream), and the other for established companies. We hope these will cover the majority of cases but of course, we can create custom licenses as needed.
I believe that these license changes will have a positive impact both for the NuPIC open source community as well as for potential commercial partners. Other than the SaaS change, there is no other change in the open source license such that researchers, students, and individual programmers can continue their work as before. Commercial participants can use our Trial License, and will soon be able to evaluate our new standard licenses.
Thank you for your continued support.