The GNU Affero General Public License or GNU AGPL is a free software license published by the Free Software Foundation. The GNU AGPL is similar to the GNU General Public License, except that it has an additional section to cover use over a computer network. It closes what is commonly known as the Application service provider loophole of the GNU General Public License. The additional section requires that the complete source code be made available to any network user of the AGPLed work, typically a web application. For the legally precise description see the external link at the end of the article.
Note that GNU Affero General Public License is not the same legal document as the Affero General Public License, though they are quite similar in intent and effect.
In 2000, while developing an e-learning and e-service business model, Henry Poole met with Richard Stallman in Amsterdam where they discussed the ASP loophole in the GPLv2. Over the following months, Stallman and Poole discussed approaches to solving the problem. In 2001, Poole founded Affero, Inc. (a web services business), and he needed a license that would require distribution by other organizations who used their code to create derivative web services. At that time, Poole contacted Bradley M. Kuhn and Eben Moglen of the Free Software Foundation to get advice on a new license that would close the ASP loophole in the GPLv2.
Around late February 2002, Kuhn suggested, based on the idea of a program that prints it own source code, that the GPL have a section 2(d) that would require a download source feature that always gave complete and corresponding source code and was maintained in derivative works. Precedence for this feature, Kuhn argued, was made in section 2(c) which already required preservation of certain features by the downstream distributors and modifiers.
Moglen and Kuhn developed language for this new section 2(d), and provided it to Poole, who then requested and received permission from the FSF to publish a derivative of the GPLv2 for this purpose. In March 2002, Poole published the Affero General Public License for use on the Affero project and made it available for other software as a service developers.
Originally, the license designers contemplated including the special aspects of the Affero license into GPLv3, but ultimately the FSF decided to publish a separate license. The name Affero was kept, however, and the new license was dubbed the GNU Affero General Public License. It was given version number 3 for parity with the GPL, and the current GNU Affero General Public License is usually abbreviated AGPLv3.Template:Fact
Widely used GNU AGPL-licensed projects include the UK Prime Minister's petitions website.
Relationship with the GPLEdit
While the AGPL was initially written with the approval of the Free Software Foundation — the organization behind the GPL — the additional requirements of the license make it incompatible with the GPL version 2. This means that components covered by each license cannot be combined into a single work.
Subsequently, the Free Software Foundation has taken over maintenance of the Affero General Public License and renamed it the GNU Affero General Public License (version 3). The GPL version 3 includes a clause (section 13) that explicitly allows linking software licensed under GPLv3 with AGPLv3.
To establish an upgrade path from Affero's AGPLv1 to FSF's AGPLv3, Affero, Inc. published the AGPLv2, which is merely a transitional license that allows licensees who have software under "AGPLv1 or any later version as published by Affero, Inc" to move to FSF's AGPLv3.
The finalized version of AGPLv3 was published by the Free Software Foundation on November 19, 2007.
Compatibility with other licenses Edit
The AGPL is compatible with the GNU General Public License version 3 in that developers of programs licensed under the AGPL can use libraries or code released under GPLv3. Under certain conditions, developers of programs licensed under GPLv3 are also able to use libraries or code released under the AGPL, since this license does not add any specific requirement for software that does not interact with users over the network.
See also Edit
- Free Software licensing
- GNU General Public License
- GNU Lesser General Public License
- GNAT Modified General Public License
- GPL linking exception
- GNU Free Documentation License
- List of software licenses
- GNU Affero General Public License Version 3
- GPLv3, Software as a Service and version 2 of the Affero GPL
- Affero General Public License Version 1
- AGPL Version 1 FAQ
- Free Software Foundation supports AGPL press release
- Free Software Foundation GNU AGPL v3 press release
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