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[libreplanet-discuss] AGPL Suggestion

From: Mikiya Okuno
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] AGPL Suggestion
Date: Thu, 13 May 2010 23:06:49 +0900


This is my first post to this mailing list. If the topic is already
discussed, please excuse me.

I have a concern and a suggestion for the current AGPLv3 license.

When I think about MongoDB, which is usually used as a backend
database management system for web applications and licensed under
AGPLv3, I found some ASP loopholes which the current AGPLv3 cannot


MongoDB server is licensed under AGPLv3, it is awesome :),  and its
driver is licensed under Apache License 2.0. I doubt whether these
licenses are compatible and applicable to separate parts, the server
part and the client part, within a single set of software. However it
might be perfectly follow AGPLv3. While the server software is AGPLv3,
having Apache License 2.0 driver allow web applications to keep
secret. This means that AGPLv3 actually cannot prevent web
applications from being a black-box. Even if the client side license
is GPLv3, ASP can keep the application secret as well.

Problem? In my opinion, such licensing is okay and MongoDB isn't
wrong. MongoDB simply makes use of AGPLv3 license very well. What I've
learned from their use case is that AGPLv3 itself might be "Lesser"
than what it should be. Ideally, it should take black-boxes away from
the web applications. However, in the point of such a view, AGPLv3
currently works just like LGPL for web applications if it is not
applied to the application itself or libraries which are linked to the
application. I guess AGPLv3 doesn't consider server applications just
like MongoDB which just work as a backend for web applications and do
not interact with users directly via network.

My suggestion is to rename the ongoing AGPLv3 to Lesser AGPLv3 or
similar and redefine true AGPLv3 with stronger copyleft so that it can
close ASP loopholes even if the software is used as a backend. The
stronger copyleft should be like "if you use the softwares licensed
under AGPLv3 in your web application, you have to release all of your
own software used in your web application under AGPLv3 as well." I
thought AGPLv3 might be a strong copyleft license like this, but
actually it isn't.

While the ideal license is the strongest copyleft, sometimes allowing
lesser choice result in a better result. So, we need both, just like
we have both GPL and LGPL. In addition, renaming current AGPLv3 to
"Lesser" one may benefit for those who only need feedbacks but do not
really want to close loopholes, because "Lesser" prefix can clarify
such purposes by its name.

Any comments are welcome.

Mikiya Okuno

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