> The AGPL is just an updated GPL.
The AGPL is significantly more than an updated GPL and there are loads of companies which have a blanket policy in place to not even get anywhere close to AGPL code because of the uncertainties about how it actually works.
> The AGPL is the very definition of "open source", because it defends openness.
Maybe it's the definition of free software but it's definitely not the definition of open source. Many of us in the open source community see our work as something that should be open for everybody to use.
AGPL is an open source license, according to OSI, the only authority on what constitutes open source. https://opensource.org/licenses/AGPL-3.0
You say "open for everybody to use". Both open source licenses and free/libre licences guarantee that the software is open for use. You're actually talking about freedom to combine with closed source/proprietary software, not about end-users freedom to use the software.
That is true, but "frog" is still definitely not the definition of "animal", even though a frog is an animal.
The red-eyed tree frog  is an animal, but it is a noncentral example of an animal, i.e., it is not the typical thing you think of when you think "animal". To the_mitsuhiko, the AGPL is a noncentral example of an open source license.
The term comes from the noncentral fallacy , which is about abusing noncentral examples.
This is an interesting example for the difference between "reading by the word" and "reading by the meaning" (there's not a good English word for this, but in Germany we call this "sinnentnehmendes Lesen".)
I also believe it makes sense. Perhaps i can restate it. the_mitsuhiko made five assertions:
1. The AGPL is not just an updated GPL, but expands the scope of the GPL's 'infective' property considerably.
2. Some people are uncertain about what exactly the consequences of using AGPL'd software are.
3. Because of this uncertainty, there are companies which will not use AGPL'd software.
4. The AGPL is an open source license, but it is neither the only nor the most representative open source license.
5. Some people wish to license their software in a way which maximises the number of people who can use it. That means not using the AGPL, because of point 3.
Or freedom to combine with software using any other non-copyleft, open source license.
Which non-copyleft OSI-approved license are you having difficulty combing with AGPL?
Well, sure, but 10th- and 16th-most common (1% and <1%, respectively) isn't actually very common at all. Which applies to the AGPL as well.
The potential for conflict between EPL and AGPL, or CDDL and AGPL, code in projects is tiny.
For that matter, the GPL was around first, and is the 2nd most popular license. Shouldn't the EPL and CDDL have been modified to be GPL compatible (the Apache Software Foundation managed to work this out with the FSF, over the Apache v2.0 and GPL v3.0 licenses, after all).
But that "to combine" is exactly "to use", especially if it is a software library.
The developer who wants to combine with closed source can contact us and work out a special deal. It's only fair. They want to be compensated for spending their time, then so do we.
I don't know of anyone using agpl'd code to build software people use.
> For example, imagine Digital Ocean using MongoDB to store server configurations. AGPL would force them to open-source their whole infrastructure. All of it. Or pay to get a different license.
AGPL licenses aren't transitive, things that touch AGPL'ed software over the network aren't suddenly required to be AGPL licensed (otherwise the whole purpose of it would fall apart, since a large chunk of the initial design was for Free Software web-applications which could still be run in proprietary web browsers).
AGPL means if you decide to fork a project and add new features, then sell it as a hosted service ala AWS/Azure then you also have to provide anyone that connects to it your modified source code. I'm actually debating using the license right now in a couple of projects I've been prototyping - I don't want to prevent people from being able to make money offering hosted services, but at the same time I don't want hostile SaaS forks that could rip off my work without contributing their changes back (I like the BSD license for libraries, but I'm starting to appreciate the GPL/AGPL more for applications for community-related reasons rather than free software righteousness).
That is not necessarily true in the case of the database due to how the drivers work. This would need to be tested in court. It's unclear by the license terms alone.
> 13. Remote Network Interaction; Use with the GNU General Public License.
> Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify the Program, your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network (if your version supports such interaction) an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version by providing access to the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge, through some standard or customary means of facilitating copying of software. This Corresponding Source shall include the Corresponding Source for any work covered by version 3 of the GNU General Public License that is incorporated pursuant to the following paragraph.
> Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed under version 3 of the GNU General Public License into a single combined work, and to convey the resulting work. The terms of this License will continue to apply to the part which is the covered work, but the work with which it is combined will remain governed by version 3 of the GNU General Public License.
Users interacting with the modified program over the network have a right to access the modified source, there's absolutely nothing about the client software (database drivers, web browsers, etc) accessing it being considered part of a combined work. You can access a AGPL licensed database or whatever from a proprietary application with absolutely no issue, you just can't modify the AGPL'ed work, expose it to users other than yourself, and not share your modifications.
Do yourself a favor, grab https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.txt and https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.txt and run `diff` on them, this is literally the only substantive difference in the entire license text.
No, but there is a definition of corresponding source which includes code beyond the direct scope of the AGPL in case of mongodb: "Corresponding Source includes interface definition files associated with source files for the work, and the source code for shared libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is specifically designed to require, such as by intimate data communication or control flow between those subprograms and other parts of the work."
This is one point of contention that was brought up by multiple people in the past because it puts client libraries into the scope.
Literally the only delta between the GPL and AGPL is the Remote Network Interaction section, it doesn't extend the reach of the GPL license in regards to database drivers, etc.
[they] violate their own license
The worry with RethinkDB was (at least mine and people I talked to) that it can become a liability if the AGPL turns out to be an issue since some third party owns the original copyright and then who knows what happens with future contributions.
For example, imagine Digital Ocean using MongoDB to store server configurations. AGPL would force them to open-source their whole infrastructure. All of it. Or pay to get a different license.
I don't have a moral argument to make here -- just making sure people realize the actual trade-offs. AGPL is theoretically for a world where closed source software is simply not allowed to co-exist with opensource, even if you don't distribute it, but simply run it / host it / use it. But that world doesn't exist, so it does the opposite: it is actually used to make sure some of your users have to pay. It enables a business model.
I don't think that's correct. From MongoDB the company:
> Note however that it is NOT required that applications using mongo be published. The copyleft applies only to the mongod and mongos database programs. This is why Mongo DB drivers are all licensed under an Apache license. You application, even though it talks to the database, is a separate program and “work”.
Just because a license says something does not mean that everybody interprets it the same way or that the clauses are valid in it. The "Remote Network Interaction" section has never made it to court and there are countless different interpretations one can draw from this.
Precondition: Take a GNU Affero GPv3 product, modify it, and expose it over a network, directly or by proxy, over a network, for users to use.
Your four possibilities:
(1) If you provide source, and the courts uphold the 'Remote Network Interaction' clause: you're fine.
(2) If you don't provide source, and the courts uphold the 'Remote Network Interaction' clause: you're screwed.
(3) If you provide source, and the courts don't uphold the 'Remote Network Interaction' clause: you're fine, but you would've been fine not providing the code in retrospect.
(4) If you don't provide source, and the courts don't uphold the 'Remote Network Interaction' clause: you've defeated the GNU Affero GPLv3 in court.
You can absolutely make the argument for or against the business risks of releasing source code, but you can't make the argument for 'uncertainty'.
If I take some caching algorithm from RethinkDB and put it in my fork of OpenSSL, do I have to make it possible for everyone who connects to my SSL server to download the source of my fork? Do I need to start stuffing the URL of corresponding source into my certificate?
I'd hope the answer is no, but what in the license makes it clear that the answer is no?
As the AGPL hasn't been tested in court, we're all mostly guessing.
I'm curious as to why. The GPL has manifestly built the modern internet (cloud servers are mostly Linux, most IT startups use Linux, etc.)
There are other open source licences which are also widely used (Apache, BSD, MIT). So I think the key thing to this wide-spread success is open source in general, and not the license in particular.
Would you say that the GPL is negative? I.e. would we have been better off of Linux was BSD licenses? If so, why? If not, why be against the GPL?
For the most part it does not matter if Linux is GPL or not because GPL functions very differently for operating systems than for libraries and applications. However the GPL is causing issues for Linux as well and there are some ongoing lawsuits involving the GPL in the context of the Linux Kernel which will be interesting to see.
I do not know what a world looks like where the GPL does not exist so I won't judge that. The GPL was and is amazing to help the Open Source movement however it's becoming less and less relevant for new projects.
> why be against the GPL?
It's a very complicated license, impossible to evolve and means that you can build something that you cannot ship on another platform because that platform is GPL incompatible. For instance you will never see GPLv3 code running on iOS because you just can't have it there. The mechanics of the license are very complex and I do not agree with the "force people to contribute" approach. Good contributions come anyways, the bad ones I do not care. If someone wants to fuck over a license holder over they can do it regardless (for instance by providing close to unreadable GPL code :)
That would be a case against iOS, take it up with the masters of your walled garden.
That is hard to say. Some contributors only contribute to GPL projects, since they want that derivative works of their work to stay open-sourced. I think they should have a right to require that.
Even though I personally believe in open sourcing everything possible, when all else is equal, I would always choose something that isn't copyleft over something that is. Because I shouldn't really have to be bothered by copyright infringement concerns when using open source software.
It's most free for end users.
But if we're talking about tools for a developer audience--like RethinkDB, and frankly a whole lot of other open source software--then developers are the end users, and so the license really does matter. I've long thought that one of the strengths of the GPL is that it's more restrictive from a developer standpoint, rather than less. If I was trying to build a company around open source software, the (A)GPL would be attractive expressly because it makes it more difficult for competitors to build on. If the company goes away and there's no way for someone to buy a commercial license with a different set of restrictions, that can become an issue, as we've seen with RethinkDB -- but the (A)GPL isn't necessarily an impediment to strong community development, as we've seen with, well, a lot of other software over the last two decades.
Nah, it's not that simple.
Ever saw a giant chorus singing "oh almighty developers please make this and that" for tiny features? I think every other product support forum is just like that. And I also saw situations when someone on the outside had hacked features that weren't provided by original developers. Both free software projects and proprietary software.
So freedoms actually matter to the "common folk", they just don't consciously recognize that and surely they don't know the terminology.
While I accept that the OSI definition of "open source" is pretty much universally accepted and probably isn't going to change, I personally don't really feel like copyleft should qualify because of that level of control it exerts.