HashiCorp

HashiCorp updates licensing FAQ based on community questions

HashiCorp continues to update our licensing FAQ based on questions from the community about our change to the Business Source License for future releases of HashiCorp products.

HashiCorp recently announced that we have adopted the Business Source License (BSL, or BUSL) v1.1 for all future releases of HashiCorp products. HashiCorp team members have been answering questions about the licensing change in a thread on our Discuss forum and via our licensing@hashicorp.com email. Based on those questions, we have continued to update our FAQ to provide additional clarity.

Our goal with the BSL license was to make it short and simple. This means the FAQs play an important role in providing interpretive guidance to our users. We view the guidance in these FAQs as binding, so users of our software should feel assured in relying on them as our official positions now and in the future.

We have added additional questions and answers to the FAQs since August 10 based on common questions we have received. We wanted to share the most relevant updates for our community to ensure there is clarity on the changes and their impacts.

Please refer to the FAQ page for the most up-to-date version of questions and answers. The FAQ page includes both the original questions and these additions.

»Internal use of HashiCorp products

One of the most common questions has been from users in the community asking if they can continue to use the products for internal purposes. The answer is yes, and we’ve added a specific FAQ item to explicitly answer this. The BSL license imposes no restrictions on internal use of our tooling. For example, running HashiCorp Terraform in a CI/CD tool for provisioning internal infrastructure or hosting a HashiCorp Vault instance for your internal organization is permitted.

Question: Can I host the HashiCorp products as a service internal to my organization?

Answer: Yes. The terms of the BSL allow for all non-production and production usage, except for providing competitive offerings to third parties that embed or host our software. Hosting the products for your internal use of your organization is permitted. HashiCorp considers an organization as including all of its affiliates. This means one division can host a HashiCorp product for use by another internal division.

»Defining competitive offerings

Another common area of questions has been what HashiCorp considers a competitive offering, and how that definition might change based on future HashiCorp products. The BSL license was designed to be broadly permissive to allow the vast majority of community use cases. The narrow restriction is on using a HashiCorp product to compete directly with its corresponding commercial offerings. Our updated FAQs make this clear by permitting cross-competition (e.g. using Vault to compete with Terraform) and grandfathering any future competition.

Q: What is a “competitive offering” under the HashiCorp BSL license?

A: A “competitive offering” is a product that is sold to third parties, including through paid support arrangements, that significantly overlaps the capabilities of a HashiCorp commercial product. For example, this definition would include hosting or embedding Terraform as part of a solution that is sold competitively against our commercial versions of Terraform. By contrast, products that are not sold or supported on a paid basis are always allowed under the HashiCorp BSL license because they are not considered competitive.

If you need further clarification with respect to a particular use case, you can email licensing@hashicorp.com. Custom licensing terms are also available to provide more clarity and enable use cases beyond the BSL limitations.

Q: What does the term “embedded” mean under the HashiCorp BSL license?

A: Under the HashiCorp BSL license, the term “embedded” means including the source code or object code, including executable binaries, from a HashiCorp product in a competitive product. “Embedded” also means packaging the competitive product in such a way that the HashiCorp product must be accessed or downloaded for the competitive product to operate.

Q: If I want to build a product that is competitive with HashiCorp, does that mean I’m now prevented from using any HashiCorp tools under the BSL license?

A: No. The BSL license does not prevent developers from using our tools to build competing products. For example, if someone built a product competitive with Vault, it would be permissible to deploy that product with Terraform. Similarly, if someone built a competitive product to Terraform, they could use Vault to secure it. What the BSL license would not allow is hosting or embedding Terraform in order to compete with Terraform, or hosting or embedding Vault to compete with Vault.

Q: What if HashiCorp releases a new product or feature in the future that makes my project competitive?

A: If HashiCorp creates an offering in the future that is competitive with a product you are already offering in production, your continued use of the hosted or embedded HashiCorp product will not be considered a violation of the HashiCorp BSL license.

»Open source and the BSL license

HashiCorp adopted the BSL for only our core products. The HashiCorp APIs, SDKs, Terraform providers, and almost all other libraries across the HashiCorp portfolio will remain licensed under Mozilla Public License v2.0 (MPL 2.0). There are a few libraries, such as Vault Shamir, that were inadvertently re-licensed because of the monorepo approach, but we’ve since explicitly licensed those back to MPL. We thank community members for bringing this to our attention. The BSL license is also compatible with most other licenses and, with the exception of certain copyleft licenses such as GPL, does not prevent using HashiCorp products as part of other OSS projects.

Q: Can I mix BSL licensed code with code provided under a different license (i.e., Apache, MPL, etc.) in my project?

A: Yes, provided that each of the components keep their own license, and you do not mix the BSL with strong copyleft licensed code such as GPL. With respect to some permissive licenses like Apache, you may also provide the whole program under BSL but include a notice for the Apache portion (this is possible because Apache, unlike some other open source licenses, grants the right to sublicense).

Q: I am the author of an open source project that uses HashiCorp technology in a non-competitive way (e.g. uses Terraform but not in a production environment). If someone else uses my project to produce a competitive product or hosted service (e.g. starts using my project in their SaaS solution), am I at risk of being considered competitive and violating the BSL license? Do I need to track all users of my project and report suspected infringing use?

A: Only those who are actively embedding or hosting the HashiCorp products in a competitive manner would be in violation of the license. The violation would not extend to a project owner who is not doing so, and the project owner would have no obligation to monitor or report on how others are using their project.

»Consulting and professional services

Lastly, we received many questions from consultancies and systems integrators asking how the BSL license impacts their ability to provide professional services. In short, the BSL license does not prohibit providing professional services, and we have a large partner ecosystem that we work closely with to support our users to deploy, manage, and adopt HashiCorp products.

Q: Can I continue to provide professional services around HashiCorp products?

A: Yes. We have a large ecosystem of systems integrator partners that provide consulting and professional services to help users deploy, manage, and operate our products for their internal use. The change to our license is not intended to deter partners from providing those services, and we will continue to encourage and support these types of systems integrator partners. Instead, the BSL license simply prevents embedding or hosting our community products in a manner competitive with our commercial products.

Q: I’m a consultant who helps my customers run their infrastructure using HashiCorp tooling. Does HashiCorp consider me a competitor?

A: All non-production use of BSL licensed HashiCorp products is permitted. Assisting a customer with their own use of BSL licensed HashiCorp products for their production environment is also permitted. Embedding or hosting BSL licensed HashiCorp products in an offering to be made available to multiple customers that is competitive with HashiCorp products is not permitted.

»Additional community resources

For the full FAQ, go here. For a summary of the license change announcement and its impact, take a look at the announcement blog post, explanatory video, and our BSL license itself.

HashiCorp will continue to respond to questions on our Discuss forum thread and via licensing@hashicorp.com. In addition, we will update the FAQ as needed to provide additional clarity.

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