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Chas Nelson
Chas Nelson

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GNU AGPLv3 - the fools' gold of licenses?

Hi all, I was hoping to gather some opinions on the choice of license for releasing some of our codebase as open source.

GNU AGPLv3 is a very appealing license for a range of reasons (many of which are summarised by another project here: https://plausible.io/blog/open-source-licenses).

However... I see many articles like: https://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/dont-believe-the-hype-agpl-open-source-licensing-is-toxic-and-unpopular/ that claim there a big problems... and contrariwise: https://medium.com/swlh/understanding-the-agpl-the-most-misunderstood-license-86fd1fe91275 that claims its just because people misunderstand the license.

I believe Google and other big business refuse to touch anything with an AGPL license.

In my mind, the AGPL is a great license from a business point of view - it's the most protective open source license, particularly as we develop browser-based software that we intend to host via cloud instances in the future.

However, it seems like big companies and individual developers have problems with AGPL and, to be honest, I can't think of a bit of software that I use that is AGPL.

I guess my question is: despite the obvious protection AGPL gives a small SaaS company, are the perceived negatives and lack of community uptake enough to negate all these positives?

Thanks for your thoughts!
Chas

Discussion (5)

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sam profile image
Sam

As one recent example, Linagora seems to be using AGPLv3 for their new application Twake.

Perhaps @zapolsky can add some additional insight to the discussion?

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Alex Treece

One data point - the techrepublic post points out Kafka as one major project that uses Apache 2.0, but Confluent (the COSS that uses Kafka and is more of a comparable for what you're asking) actually shifted part of their tech off Apache 2.0. Detailed explanation here:

confluent.io/blog/license-changes-...

In Confluent's case it wasn't AGPL they switched to, but a custom license. But if you read their explanations, it's actually quite similar logic to Plausible's for switching to AGPL v3

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Sam

Hi @chasnelson1990 , this new piece from @heathermeeker could give some more insights to AGPLv3's history and role in the ecosystem!

coss.community/coss/elastic-licens...

Additionally, this piece from Salil Deshpande has a detailed section on Why not AGPL, specifically in the business context.

Would love to hear your thoughts and if you find anything particularly interesting!

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Joseph (JJ) Jacks

I asked my partner Heather Meeker to comment!

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Chas Nelson Author

Thanks!