[probably groundless] AGPL concerns/questions

Johannes Buchner buchner.johannes at gmx.at
Thu Oct 15 13:17:36 UTC 2009

On Thu, 15 Oct 2009 08:55:34 -0400
Dave Tenny <dave.tenny at gmail.com> wrote:

> The license is here for reference:
> http://opensource.org/licenses/agpl-v3.html
> 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"?
Any interaction will qualify. It does not matter whether the interface
is a open standard or a proprietary interface.

> (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?
Yes, (A)GPL does not allow extra clauses.
> (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?
Yes. Open source does not mean public source. You have to distribute to
the users, you do not have to distribute to everyone.

> Perhaps other terms in the license make this accessible, still
> learning the ins and outs of GPL.
> Can someone clarify?
I have a feeling I only got 2 of the 3 right ... please correct me ...

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