you write that the new license is “more permissive”. The opposite seems to be the case. The new license is actually LESS permissive.
That is not true. We NEVER allowed anybody to offer a hosted version of n8n without license. Our FAQ said from the beginning “For instance, one cannot charge others to host or support n8n.” (old docs). And what confuses me even more is that we have been in contact in December 2020 exactly for that reason. We had a video call on the 7th of December 2020 and exchanged multiple emails afterward to get such a license. So you were very aware back then of that limitation, so wonder why you now claim that hosting was possible before without a license.
The official website of the Commons Clause.
The Commons Clause license text says:
For purposes of the foregoing, “Sell” means practicing any or all of the rights granted to you under the
License to provide to third parties, for a fee or other consideration (including without limitation fees for
hosting or consulting/ support services related to the Software), a product or service whose value
derives, entirely or substantially, from the functionality of the Software. Any license notice or attribution
required by the License must also include this Commons Clause License Condition notice.
And this is exactly how we read it (as it is written like that). Hosting is not allowed. That their FAQ says for some strange and unknown reason exactly the opposite than the license text, does not make any sense at all. But exactly that, was one of the reasons why we moved away from the Commons Clause as it was unnecessarily confusing people.
Through enforcing this new license you are effectively killing any real competition to your own SaaS offering (and not just of your embed offering) by forcing competitors into a licensing agreement (and we saw that license before and we were not happy with it).
No, we are not killing it, we are just demanding that they pay if they want to offer one. And you are right, we are forcing them to sign such a licensing agreement in that case. That is, after all the whole reason why we created that license. So should be not very surprising.
It also creates an uneven playing field.
Also totally disagree here. I would actually say we are more leveling it, and are making sure that some money that gets made with it, flows back into the project.
If another company creates a hosted offering of n8n, what they have to do is (very simplified):
1: build hosted offering
That is actually it, they are done. They can put 100% of their resources and money into that one piece.
If we create a hosted offering, it is a little bit different:
1: build n8n
2: add new features
3: create new nodes
4: fix bugs
5: provide support to the whole community
100: build hosted offering
Does that sound even to you? With our license agreement, we make sure that those companies are paying their fair share for all the other parts. And it is pretty much in their interest. After all, do they depend on it, so paying some money back to the company which pushes the project forward, does not sound too strange to me.
So I wonder why do you have a problem with paying for it? Nobody complains when they have to pay a lot of money for a Photoshop license or pay monthly a lot for Notion, Slack, and co. But if we allow people to use n8n totally for free but want some share when they want to make money of it, it is bad?
And our license terms are also perfectly fair. We normally charge a 30% revenue share. Meaning we receive 30%, and the partner keeps 70%. So the majority of the money made of n8n stays actually with the partner. That also means that if a partner does not make any money, they do not pay a single cent (is after all revenue share). If they make $100 they pay $30, if they make $10k they pay $3k and for that, they can use code in which literally millions of dollars get invested.
Honestly do also not understand where the notion comes from that people have to be able to make money with the n8n code in the first place?
Just because we make our code public, allow everybody to use it totally for free, and additionally try to give also amazing and free support to everybody, does not mean that people have to be able to commercialize it for free. We (and esp. I from the first day) have always been 100% upfront about what use cases we allow, and which ones not. So can not understand why anybody could complain and demand even more. I deliberately did NOT make the code “OSI approved open-source” on purpose.
This is bad for the n8n ecosystem in our opinion because it hinders competition and makes it less attractive for external developers like us to contribute. And there are many examples of ecosystems that thrive when there is real open source involved, like WordPress, Mautic, Matomo, Metabase or Cal. com.
Many different kinds of companies and projects exist with very different buisness models. The ones you listed, are for sure the more successful ones for which it worked out well. There are however also many thousands where that is not the case. There almost all the money does end up with external companies rather than making it back to the project. Sure, some of that companies contribute sometimes some code or fix some bugs, but I can tell, that it would be better if the project would have received money instead. After all, do they have the big picture in mind. They push the project forward and work on things which have the biggest impact. The external companies obviously spend resources only on the things which are important for them, some edge case bug or some feature that literally notbody else needs. I have never seen that comanies come and say “hey, what shall we work on next”, they are very self serving (which I can also understand).
And I am sure, that if you check all of the projects you listed above you will see that almost all of the code which does still get written today is written by the company behind the project.
So for that reason, do I actually think it is great for the n8n ecosystem as it makes sure that we have the resources we need to work on n8n and push it forward. Like that are we able to work on the important things, rather than being dependent on some external companies sometimes pushing some code in our direction if their internal resources did allow it because the pain became big enough.