Akka requires significant investment in order to maintain its position as a preeminent distributed systems runtime. Many organizations have adopted Akka and are seeing significant benefits for their organizations.
However, in recent years an increasing number of those organizations have elected to self-support without either contributing back to the community or by investing in annual subscriptions. We have an ambitious roadmap for the future of Akka and require a way to fund and sustain that development.
We believe that larger organizations that are seeing business benefits from Akka should contribute to the ongoing health and evolution of the project.
The new license is the Business Source License (BSL) v1.1 with an additional usage grant to cover some open source usage of Akka. The BSL was originally created by David Axmark and Michael Widenius and has been adopted by organizations such as MariaDB and Cockroach Labs, Sentry, and Materialized.
The BSL is a source available license that freely allows usage of the code for development and other non-production work such as testing. Production use of the software requires a commercial license. The commercial license will be available for early stage companies (less than US $25m in annual revenue) at no charge.
The BSL requires that the code licensed revert to an approved open source license (“Change License”) after a period of time (“Change Date”) which can be no later than 4 years.
The open source Change License will be Apache 2.0 and Lightbend is making the Change Date 3 years– i.e. whenever Akka code is released under the BSL, that code will revert to the Apache license after three years and all of the terms of the Apache license will apply at that time.
All future versions of all Akka modules and all associated modules such as alpakka-kafka will be released under the new license.
Everyone who wishes to use the latest Akka releases in production. However, earlier stage companies with annual revenues less than US $25m will be granted the license at no cost.
Yes. However there will be no additional features, enhancements, non-critical security updates, or non-critical bug fixes.
Yes, critical security updates and critical bugs will be patched in Akka v2.6.x under the current Apache 2 license until September of 2023.
The vast majority of current subscribers are fully covered by their existing subscriptions. There may be some subscribers who will need to license additional projects that use Akka in production if they were outside the scope of the original subscription.
The license offers a customizable “Additional Use Grant” that grants production usage for other OSS projects including Play Framework.
If you are running an OSS project using Akka, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to continue to support your project.
Our goal is to ensure that people using Play without directly using Akka are exempt from requiring a license for Akka. We have an Additional Use grant as part of our BSL license that excludes usage of certain parts of Akka required by Play from requiring a license.
If you are using Play and are directly using Akka components as part of your implementation you will be required to have a license for production use.
Lightbend has an ISV program to provide limited right of use licenses of Akka for your customers so long as Akka is used only in conjunction with your product. These licenses allow distribution to your customers without them having to procure a license directly and are available to our ISV partners at significantly discounted prices. Please contact us at email@example.com for details.
Yes. Lightbend has special pricing available for product partners that offer hosted services. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Yes, but that license is available at no cost to your company.
No. The Akka Startup license is for commercial entities and non-profit organizations. Government departments using Akka in production will require a commercial license.
For early stage companies with annual revenues less than US $25m per annum, the license is free. For larger companies, please refer to pricing for details.
You only need a commercial license for any copies of the software that are being used for production.
No. Each new minor version of the software will have its own Change Date. A “minor version” is defined as a release that changes the second digit of the version number. E.g. a change from Akka 2.7.19 to 2.8.0 would reset the Change Date. A patch build change from 2.7.19 to 2.7.20 would not.
Contact Lightbend at email@example.com. We will be happy to discuss your specific licensing requirements.
Yes. This is a source available license that allows and encourages community involvement.
Until the Change Date, the final mixed code will be bound by the license of the BSL code and the license of the other code. This means that the mixed code will still require a commercial license for production usage of the BSL licensed code. After the Change Date, the final mixed code will be bound by at least the Change License (i.e. Apache 2.0), along with whatever licensing requirements are mandated by the other code’s license.
Yes. Use in a closed source product will usually be for production use so you must get a commercial license. If the annual revenue of your company is less than US $25m per annum then this will be available at no charge.
No. Your modified version consists of the original software (which is under the BSL) and your modifications, which together constitute a derivative work of the original software. The license does not grant you the right to redistribute under a permissive license like Apache.
No. In this circumstance, you would either violate Lightbend’s copyright by re-releasing the code under Open Source, or you would violate the earlier Akka version’s Apache license by introducing incompatible BSL code (i.e., code subject to a use limitation not allowed by the Open Source Apache 2.0 license).
We'd love to learn about your requirements, answer your unique questions, and review ways that Lightbend can help you and your organization.