GNU Affero General Public License

The GNU Affero General Public License is a free, copyleft license published by the Free Software Foundation in November 2007, and based on the GNU General Public License, version 3 and the Affero General Public License.

GNU Affero General Public License
AuthorFree Software Foundation
Latest version3
PublisherFree Software Foundation, Inc.
PublishedNovember 19, 2007
DFSG compatibleYes[1]
FSF approvedYes[2]
OSI approvedYes[3][4]
GPL compatibleYes (permits linking with GPLv3)[5]
Linking from code with a different licenseOnly with GPLv3; AGPL terms will apply for the AGPL part in a combined work.[2][5]

The Free Software Foundation has recommended that the GNU AGPLv3 be considered for any software that will commonly be run over a network.[2] The Open Source Initiative approved the GNU AGPLv3[3] as an open source license in March 2008 after the company Funambol submitted it for consideration through its CEO Fabrizio Capobianco.[6]

Compatibility with the GPL

GNU AGPLv3 and GPLv3 licenses each include clauses (in section 13 of each license) that together achieve a form of mutual compatibility for the two licenses. These clauses explicitly allow the "conveying" of a work formed by linking code licensed under the one license against code licensed under the other license,[7] despite the licenses otherwise not allowing relicensing under the terms of each other.[2] In this way, the copyleft of each license is relaxed to allow distributing such combinations.[2]

Examples of applications under GNU AGPL

Stet was the first software system known to be released under the GNU AGPL, on November 21, 2007,[8] and is the only known program to be used mainly for the production of its own license.

Flask developer Armin Ronacher noted in 2013 that the GNU AGPL is a "terrible success, especially among the startup community" as a "vehicle for dual commercial licensing", and gave Humhub, MongoDB, OpenERP, RethinkDB, Shinken, Slic3r, SugarCRM, and WURFL as examples.[9]

MongoDB dropped the AGPL in late-2018 in favor of the "Server Side Public License" (SSPL), a variation of GPLv3 that requires those who use the software as part of a "service", accessible to third-parties, must make the entire source code of all software used to facilitate the service available under the same license. The SSPL has been rejected by the Open Source Initiative and banned by both Debian and the Fedora Project, citing that the license's intent is to discriminate against cloud computing providers offering services based on the software without purchasing its commercial license.[10][11]

See also


  1. Jaspert, Joerg (November 28, 2008). " Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?". The Debian Project. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  2. List of free-software licences on the FSF website: "We recommend that developers consider using the GNU AGPL for any software which will commonly be run over a network."
  3. "OSI approved licenses". Open Source initiative.
  4. "OSI approved", Licenses, TL;DR legal.
  5. "Licenses section 13", GNU AGPLv3, GNU Project.
  6. "Funambol Helps New AGPLv3 Open Source License Gain Formal OSI Approval" (Press release). Funambol. Mar 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07.
  7. The GNU General Public License v3 – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  8. Kuhn, Bradley M. (November 21, 2007). "stet and AGPLv3". Software Freedom Law Center. Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2008.
  9. Ronacher, Armin (2013-07-23). "Licensing in a Post Copyright World". Retrieved 2015-11-18. The AGPLv3 was a terrible success, especially among the startup community that found the perfect base license to make dual licensing with a commercial license feasible. MongoDB, RethinkDB, OpenERP, SugarCRM as well as WURFL all now utilize the AGPLv3 as a vehicle for dual commercial licensing. The AGPLv3 makes that generally easy to accomplish as the original copyright author has the rights to make a commercial license possible but nobody who receives the sourcecode itself through the APLv3 inherits that right. I am not sure if that was the intended use of the license, but that's at least what it's definitely being used for now.
  10. Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "MongoDB "open-source" Server Side Public License rejected". ZDNet. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  11. "MongoDB's licensing changes led Red Hat to drop the database from the latest version of its server OS". GeekWire. 2019-01-16. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
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