Subject: Re: The Affero GPL (AGPL)
From: Michael Bernstein <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 13:20:31 -0700

Alex Rousskov wrote:

> On Thu, 22 Jul 2004, Michael Bernstein wrote:
>>>>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
>>The AGPL does not restrict the software to any technology.
> It does, in many ways, IMO. HTTP is technology.

But it doesn't *restrict* to HTTP. Additional means of distribution are 
allowed within the terms of the license.

 > "Immediate transmission" is technology.

I'm having trouble following your reasoning here. Is 'source code' a 
technology within your interpretation, then?

For that matter, does the requirement to provide source somehow 
'restrict' other forms that the software may be transformed into for 

> Under certain AGPL conditions, a
> derivative work cannot, for example, substitute HTTP code with BEEP
> code or delay responses. These are purely technical requirements that
> might prevent a derivative work from being used on some computer
> networks (e.g., those that do not support HTTP).

Hmm. Well, I am out of my technical depth here. I was under the 
impression that HTTP was transport neutral, and could be run perfectly 
well over other networks besides TCP/IP.

> The AGPL requirement is also technically broken in several ways
> (assuming I understand the intent correctly). For example, AGPL
> requires certain derivatives to provide "an opportunity to request
> transmission [...] of complete source code".  The license does not
> seem to require the program to respond to that request or to respond
> with complete source code. Responding with "403 Forbidden" or "499
> Good Luck" seems to be acceptable, from technical point of view. Thus,
> I would not use this license if your intent is to preserve "embedded
> source download" functionality in derivative works.

Yow! That could be a deal-breaker, all right. I'll forward this 
objection to the appropriate address.

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