[probably groundless] AGPL concerns/questions

Dave Tenny dave.tenny at gmail.com
Thu Oct 15 12:55:34 UTC 2009

The license is here for reference:

I'm concerned that the AGPL license seems flawed in section 13 with respect to
mechanics of openness in network server types of applications.

(1) "interaction" loophole

"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"

What if the program doesn't doesn't have a suitable "interaction"
interface?  That sounds like a loophole
for applications which have custom client modules (as opposed to
standards based interfaces like web browsers).

Does that mean someone modifying and hosting the server with a custom
client module can just say
"oops, no such interface, no source for you, sorry"?

(2) customer terms of service loophole

Let's say I'm a big hosting company XYZ similar to, say, Collab.Net
and that my customers are required to sign a service agreement
that prohibits them from redistributing software that I provide to the clients.

Then the company starts using an AGPL client-server application.

That would seem to be a license incompatibility, the client agreement
would attempt to
refute the AGPL terms that would let customers redistribute the
sources.  Presumably APGL wins here,
if the company wants to host AGPL software, their terms of service
restricting redistribution
would have to be amended?

(3) What about people who do not use the client software, because it
isn't made available to them,
but want to get the modified server sources being used by the company?
 Is their only recourse
to obtaining the software to become, or be friends with, a client user
of the software being hosted?

Perhaps other terms in the license make this accessible, still
learning the ins and outs of GPL.
Can someone clarify?


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