StarTree ThirdEye Community License FAQ

    StarTree ThirdEye Community License FAQ

    What is the new StarTree ThirdEye Community License?

    StarTree is taking leadership of ThirdEye which is currently a sub-project under Apache Pinot and converting it to a source-available license.

    Tell me what this means

    Under the StarTree Community License, you can access the source code and modify or redistribute it; there is only one thing you cannot do, and that is using for the “Excluded Purpose” to make a competing SaaS offering. Here is the exact language:

    “Excluded Purpose” is making available any software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, or other similar online services that compete with StarTree products or services that provide the Software.

    For example, it does not allow the hosting of ThirdEye under the StarTree Community License as online service offerings that compete with StarTree SaaS products or services that provide the same software. If you are not doing what is excluded, this license change will not affect you.

    Does this apply to Apache Pinot and existing open-source ThirdEye (sub-project under Apache Pinot)?

    No. The license change only applies to our StarTree ThirdEye that was previously under Apache Pinot as a sub-project. Any versions of ThirdEye that were previously released under the Apache 2.0 license are still available under that license.

    Will StarTree continue to contribute to old ThirdEye under Apache Pinot?

    Absolutely. StarTree will take leadership of ThirdEye and will continue to make contributions to the development, maintenance, and improvement of ThirdEye.

    Why did we do this?

    We think it is a necessary step. This lets us invest heavily in code that we distribute for free, while sustaining a healthy business that funds this investment.

    We aren’t alone in looking at alternative licensing mechanisms. Other companies have recently gone through licensing adjustments, attempting to solve for the problem of public clouds reaping rewards for serving software while not supporting the software developers.

    Can I download, modify, or redistribute the code?

    Yes. The new code with enhanced architecture will be published under a new GitHub location.

    Can I embed StarTree ThirdEye Community software in the software I distribute?

    Yes, you can.

    Can I embed StarTree ThirdEye Community software in a SaaS offering I create?

    Yes, provided the SaaS offering does not fall within the “Excluded Purpose” discussed above.

    Is StarTree ThirdEye Community License open source?

    Strictly speaking, it is “source-available.” Many people use the phrase “open source” in a loose sense to mean that you can freely download, modify, and redistribute the code, and those things are all true of the code under the StarTree ThirdEye Community License. However, in the strictest sense “open source” means a license that meets the Open Source Definition, or that is approved by the Open Source Initiative (“OSI”). The StarTree ThirdEye Community License is not approved by the OSI and likely would not be as it excludes the use case of creating a SaaS offering of the code. Because of this, we will not refer to the StarTree ThirdEye Community License or any code released under it as open source.

    What if I create a competing service but give it away for free. Is that “competitive?”

    Yes. That’s just a competitive product with a price of zero. “Competitive” means that a product or service is an economic substitute.

    I’m confused about what use cases are competitive. What if future StarTree ThirdEye products compete with mine?

    Let’s go through a specific example. Say that you are building a SaaS eCommerce Order Management Application and you want to include ThirdEye in the implementation of that offering. Of course, you can do that, this service does not compete with any StarTree ThirdEye product that “provides the software”. Note that this would be true, even if in the future StarTree ThirdEye had its own eCommerce Order Management Application (not likely!). The excluded purpose for ThirdEye is limited to competition with StarTree ThirdEye’s SaaS offering of ThirdEye. And on a practical level, if you are marketing your software as an alternative for our software, that means it is competitive.

    When will the StarTree ThirdEye Community License be effective?

    It will apply to StarTree ThirdEye Platform initial and later commits. Previous commits to github (link) and bug fixes to such commits (if any) will remain under the sub-project of Apache Pinot and its respective licenses.

    Can I still use older versions of the StarTree ThirdEye Open Source Software?

    Yes. Our new license release does not affect your rights to keep using the software you received in the past under the old ThirdEye sub-project of Apache Pinot under Apache 2.0. So, if you are still using the previous version, you can continue to use it in the same way you have been using it. And of course, our new release doesn’t affect the licensing for Apache Pinot or old ThirdEye at all. That said, we may not be releasing updates to the old ThirdEye Open Source code under Apache Pinot, and it may become outdated or insecure. We don’t recommend being left behind, and we encourage you to migrate to the latest version of StarTree ThirdEye Platform.

    My company has a policy against using code with a non-commercial restriction. What should I do?

    The StarTree ThirdEye Community License is not a “non-commercial” license restriction. It only prevents one narrow kind of excluded purpose, which is using our software in a competing SaaS offering. If your company lawyers have concerns about our license, we would be happy to discuss it. Just contact us at

    I’d like to customize some of the StarTree ThirdEye Community software. Can I?

    Yes. The Excluded Purpose does not restrict the creation of modifications.

    Why didn’t StarTree ThirdEye use AGPL?

    AGPL doesn’t solve the problem we are trying to fix. AGPL allows cloud service providers to sell services using the exact software being licensed, and charge for it, without any limitation. This means the software developer has become the unpaid developer and maintainer for the cloud service provider—which is not a scenario we want to enable.

    Also, AGPL is not suitable for our customers who need to redistribute commercial products that include our software. If you put AGPL code in a distributed program, you have to open-source the whole program. We want you to be able to embed our code in proprietary applications, change it and not worry about open sourcing any of your changes. We don’t think that proprietary applications are bad, and we think it’s great if you use StarTree ThirdEye Community software to create them.

    Why didn’t you use the Commons Clause?

    Commons Clause is an approach that adds an anti-SaaS provision to existing open-source licenses, which can make interpreting the license confusing. We felt it was better to create a license for the specific purpose we intended. If Commons Clause or another such mechanism emerges as a common standard for solving the problem we’re targeting, we will gladly consider it.

    We have an Enterprise subscription. How does this change affect us?

    If you have entered into a separate enterprise agreement with us, the new release will not restrict your rights under such agreement. For any specific questions, please reach out to your account representative.

    Does the StarTree ThirdEye Community License impose a general prohibition against competing with StarTree ThirdEye?

    It does not. The excluded purpose is the following:

    “Making available any software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service or other similar online services that compete with StarTree ThirdEye products or services that provide the software”

    This may be easier to understand with a specific example. Say “the software” that you are licensing is ThirdEye. Then the excluded purpose for your use of ThirdEye could be read as

    “Making available any software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service or other similar online services that compete with StarTree ThirdEye products or services that provide [ThirdEye capabilities]”.

    In other words, it’s a limitation on your use of ThirdEye to compete with our ThirdEye offering. You are not forbidden from competing with other products StarTree ThirdEye has or may have in the future that you have not licensed under the StarTree ThirdEye Community License.

    Is the StarTree ThirdEye Community License a EULA?

    No, a EULA only gives you the right to use; the StarTree ThirdEye Community License grants other rights as well.

    If the StarTree ThirdEye Source Available Software usage will be tracked?

    Yes. The StarTree ThirdEye Community License includes that the software usage will be tracked. The usage will include no PII data. Users who want access to the quick-start project will need to submit a google form and provide their email address with a few additional details.