One of the more creative LLM pricing policies appears to have lasted all of 5 days.
TII’s Falcon LLM, which currently sits at the top of Hugging Face’s LLM leaderboard ahead of models like Meta’s LLaMa, has moved to an Apache 2.0 license. This means that the Falcon LLM is now fully open-source, and can be used for commercial applications for free. When it was launched last week, Falcon LLM’s conditions stipulated that its makers were entitled to 10 percent of the revenue of any company that used its model.
“The Technology Innovation Institute’s (TII) Falcon 40B, the UAE’s leading large-scale open-source AI model, is now free of royalties for commercial and research use, in response to global demand for inclusive access to AI,” TII announced. “Open-source, royalty-free deployment of Falcon 40B could empower public and private sector entities with efficiencies such as faster project starts, faster iterations, more flexible software development processes, robust community-driven support, and easier license management,” it added.
Falcon LLM was developed by UAE’s Technology Innovation Institute. It has two variants, a 40 billion parameter model and a 7 billion parameter model. It was trained on 384 GPUs on AWS over the course of two months. The model has been efficient to create — it claims it uses only 75 percent of GPT-3’s training compute, 40 percent of Chinchilla’s, and 80 percent of PaLM-62B’s. However, the model claims to match the performance of state-of-the-art LLMs from DeepMind, Google, and Anthropic.
When Falcon LLM had been launched last week, its initial results had immediately caught the fancy of the open-source community. But enthusiasm around the model had waned when people had looked at the fine-print — while Falcon LLM was open-source, it expected companies and users to give up 10 percent of the revenue they made from using its servic, or its derivatives. This was an unusual license in the LLM community. But after the policy wasn’t received particularly well online, it seems to have been scrapped, and now the model is free for commercial use as well. The implications of this move are significant — thus far, the best-performing open-source model was Meta’s LLaMA, which wasn’t open for commercial use, but whose weights had been leaked online, putting it in a strange legal greyzone. Falcon LLM not only outperforms LLaMA, but is also explicitly free to use, which could spur a whole wave of new innovation and progress in the open-source LLM space.