ISC considering a change to the BIND open source license

Victoria Risk vicky at
Tue Jun 14 15:33:18 UTC 2016

> What are the underlying reasons for wanting to make this change?

Hi Lars,

As you know, ISC is a non-profit. Our funding comes from software support contracts and small donations from users. We like this model because our funding is aligned with what we see as doing our core job.  

As people opt for versions of BIND from commercial vendors, we lose them as potential support customers, so the pool of people supporting the core project shrinks.  A few commercial vendors do have software support contracts with ISC, which helps, but others neither share their fixes with us nor help support us.  Some of them even market their applications as “BIND, but without the bugs”, and seem not to realize what is wrong with this.  (One commercial vendor told us they would not consider contributing patches because those would help their competitors.)  It seems unfair to those who do support ISC, many of whom are not large or rich organizations themselves, to allow others to profit off of commercializing the open source without sharing anything.  

We can’t ignore this because it is a trend.  Fewer people are willing and able to build from source, perhaps some people prefer graphical tools, and many people with larger installations need management tools and security add-ons that commercial vendors provide. We don’t want to deny anyone these things, but if those applications are built on top of our open source, we want to encourage their vendors to support the core projects.

BIND has been free in every sense for a very long time. During this time, the open source world has evolved.  We no longer need a permissive license in order to encourage reuse of BIND, we need a community-oriented license to encourage contributions to the open source.   This change will not automatically ensure that commercial vendors modifying BIND will support ISC, but it will at least communicate that this would be appropriate. 


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