GNU Affero General Public License

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GNU Affero General Public License
AGPLv3 Logo.svg
AuthorFree Software Foundation
Latest version3
PublisherFree Software Foundation, Inc.
PublishedNovember 19, 2007
SPDX identifierAGPL-3.0-or-later
Debian FSG compatibleYes[1]
FSF approvedYes[2]
OSI approvedYes[3][4]
GPL compatibleYes (permits linking with GPLv3)[5]
Linking from code with a different licenceOnly with GPLv3; AGPL terms will apply for the AGPL part in a combined work.[2][5] Edit this at Wikidata

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.

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 Free Software Foundation explains the need for the license in the case when a free program is run on a server:[6]

The GNU Affero General Public License is a modified version of the ordinary GNU GPL version 3. It has one added requirement: if you run a modified program on a server and let other users communicate with it there, your server must also allow them to download the source code corresponding to the modified version running there.

The purpose of the GNU Affero GPL is to prevent a problem that affects developers of free programs that are often used on servers.

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.[7]

Compatibility with the GPL[edit]

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,[8] 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[edit]

Stet was the first software system known to be released under the GNU AGPL, on November 21, 2007,[9] 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, Odoo, RethinkDB, Shinken, Slic3r, SugarCRM, and WURFL as examples.[10]

MongoDB dropped the AGPL in late-2018 in favor of the "Server Side Public License" (SSPL), a variation of GPLv3 that requires those who provide "the program as 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.[11] The SSPL has been rejected by the Open Source Initiative and banned by both Debian and the Fedora Project, who state that the license's intent is to discriminate against cloud computing providers offering services based on the software without purchasing its commercial license.[12][13]


Héctor Martín Cantero has criticized the Affero GPL for being an EULA and causing side effects.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jaspert, Joerg (November 28, 2008). " Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?". The Debian Project. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ a b "OSI approved licenses". Open Source initiative.
  4. ^ "OSI approved", Licenses, TL;DR legal.
  5. ^ a b "Licenses section 13", GNU AGPLv3, GNU Project.
  6. ^ "Why the Affero GPL". The GNU Project.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ The GNU General Public License v3 – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Server Side Public License (SSPL)". MongoDB. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  12. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "MongoDB "open-source" Server Side Public License rejected". ZDNet. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "Twitter profile of Hector Martin". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-05-19.

External links[edit]