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AWS responds to the criticism it has received regarding the unlawful use of technology by open-source companies. Andi Gutmans, vice president of AWS analytics and ElastiCache, responded to the article that appeared in the New York Times on Monday.

The article described that the cloud computing giant benefited from the integration of open source software developed by other companies. Among others, the Dutch company Elastic, which developed the open source Elastic search engine, saw its growth stagnate when AWS launched a comparable, but paid service, based on the same (open source) software, in 2015.

Elastic responded by offering (paid) premium features on top of its product, but AWS allegedly also copied a number of those features and made them available at no extra cost. So, Elastic is now suing Amazon for violating its trademark because the giant calls its own product “AWS Elasticsearch’.

Gutmans states, however, that Amazon does not use open-source software to profit from the labor of others, but that this stems from the goal of giving customers what they want. Gutmans went on to point out that the whole idea of open-source software is that those projects can be adapted and improved by others. He also pointed out that AWS itself makes an important contribution to some of the largest open source software projects out there.

Mixed opinions

Reactions to the New York Times article and Amazon’s defense are mixed, writes Silicon Angle. On the one hand, there are people who defend Amazon, arguing that what Amazon does with open source is no different from supermarkets, for example, that offer an off-brand version of certain products. On the other hand, there are those who argue that criticism of AWS is justified. In that case, the argument is that Amazon has been using open source software as a “loss leader” for its infrastructure offering for years. This means, more or less, offering open source software against a loss, in order to attract customers for other services.