AGPL License


AGPL or Affero General Public License Version is a new License released by FSF. This is aimed at Web Applications.

The GNU GPL allows people to modify the software they receive, and share those modified versions with others, as long as they make source available to the recipients when they do so. However, a user can modify the software and run the modified version on a network server without releasing it. Since use of the server does not imply that people can download a copy of the program, this means the modifications may never be released. Many programmers choose to use the GNU GPL to cultivate community development; if many of the modifications developed by the programs users are never released, this can be discouraging for them. The GNU AGPL addresses their concerns. The FSF recommends that people consider using the GNU AGPL for any software which will commonly be run over a network. (Emphasis mine)

Say I used AGPL for Nexty. You decide that it is a nice program – so you download it and use it. Then you make some changes to the code. So far so good.

Then you decide that you can put the modified version on your web server. The visitors can use the modified version of nexty – that is, you are not ‘distributing’ the software. If I used GPL, you could have gotten away with it – but if I use AGPL, you have to publish the code you modified as well.

The end result is that the end user is in a lot of confusion about what they should do with respect to the license. If they are not lawyers, they will not be able to understand what the license says. I have opted to use the BSD license due to factors like this – BSD license basically gives you the right to do anything with it – except claim that you wrote it.

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  1. I think that is an excellent idea or a license. But what about existing GNU GPL licenses? We need a mechanism by which an existing GNU GPL license gets converted into AGPL.

  2. Binny,
    That kinda of license seems to be good enough but I am wondering if it would be accepted widely. Also, I haven’t really come across any news of anyone suing someone over violation of GPL license. May be you might be the first one to sue somebody for violation of AGPL 😉

    Hold on! Is GPL and AGPL recognized by law makers of any country? 😮

  3. @Niyaz

    We need a mechanism by which an existing GNU GPL license gets converted into AGPL.

    If you have an application that is licensed under GPL, just license it under AGPL as well – both are compactable.


    Is GPL and AGPL recognized by law makers of any country?

    Sure it is. When you create a software, you release it under a license. That means that everyone who uses that software must agree to abide by the terms in the license. In lawyer speak it could be called a contract – although I am not sure about that – I am not a lawyer.

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