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Chas Nelson
Chas Nelson

Posted on

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:

However... I see many articles like: that claim there a big problems... and contrariwise: 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!

Top comments (5)

sam profile image

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?

alextreece profile image
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:

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

sam profile image

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

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!

jj profile image
Joseph (JJ) Jacks

I asked my partner Heather Meeker to comment!

chasnelson1990 profile image
Chas Nelson Author