Subject: Re: The Affero GPL (AGPL)
From: Michael Bernstein <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 12:31:19 -0700

Philippe Ombredanne wrote:
> Michael Bernstein wrote:
>>The web-app loophole is the main reason I don't want 
>>to use the GPL for my web applications.
> May I suggest the following:
> [snip]
> Then you should consider the Open Software License, which has all those
> attributes, and is OSI approved.

I will take a look at this license, thank you.

>>The one 'bug' I'm aware of in the license is the explicit mention of 
>>HTTP as the transmission protocol, but this shouldn't affect it's 
>>acceptability to OSI. I know it doesn't affect it's 
>>acceptability to me.
> The OSL does not restrict to a protocol, and protocol restriction would
> be a violation of the OSD anyway, by making the AFL not technology
> neutral. 
> Check thy tenth commandment "License Must Be Technology-Neutral"....


The AGPL does not restrict the software to any technology. Only if the 
software is intended to be used over a network, and already includes the 
download capability, must this capability be preserved, and the 
capability must continue to be available over HTTP. This *is* awkward, 
but if the capability was included in this form to begin with, it simply 
means that an FTP download capability cannot be substituted, but only 
added (for example).

In any case, the HTTP requirement, however awkward, does not affect the 
stated rationale for section 10 of the OSD:

Rationale: This provision is aimed specifically at licenses which 
require an explicit gesture of assent in order to establish a contract 
between licensor and licensee. Provisions mandating so-called 
"click-wrap" may conflict with important methods of software 
distribution such as FTP download, CD-ROM anthologies, and web 
mirroring; such provisions may also hinder code re-use. Conformant 
licenses must allow for the possibility that (a) redistribution of the 
software will take place over non-Web channels that do not support 
click-wrapping of the download, and that (b) the covered code (or 
re-used portions of covered code) may run in a non-GUI environment that 
cannot support popup dialogues.

Since the AGPL *does not* require an explicit gesture of assent any more 
than the GPL does, I don't see the HTTP requirement as an 
incompatibility with this section of the OSD, as additional means of 
redistributing the software *are* allowed, and the software *may* be run 
in a manner that does not support this means of distribution (ie, run in 
a manner where the software *is not* used over a network) without 
requiring HTTP distribution.

- Michael R. Bernstein  |  Author of Zope Bible  |  & Webmaster      |