[Fsfe-ie] 2nd draft of GNU Affero GPL

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at fsfe.org
Mon Nov 19 11:08:32 CET 2007

FSF have published the 2nd discussion draft of the Affero GPL.  That's the
GPL with an additional clause about software as a service, so if you allow
others to use the software via a public server, you have to offer them
access to the source code.

For a bit of background, here's what I just put in my blog:

FSF have just published the 2nd draft of the GNU Affero GPL:


The GNU Affero GPL will be a modified version of GPLv3.  The
difference, very roughly, is that it includes a requirement that if
the software is used on a public server, users must be able to get the
source code.

This issue was discussed a lot during the GPLv3 drafting process.
Some software developers thought that this requirement should be in
GPLv3.  However, the majority of software developers who commented
strongly disagreed.

The topic was controversial because there is a privacy issue.  All
versions of the GPL allow people to use modified version of the
software privately without being obliged to make their modified source
code available to anyone.  When people put software on a public
server, the question is less clear: is that private use or public use?
This was called the "software as a service" issue, or "SaaS".

FSF decided that developer unhappiness was enough of a reason not to
add this requirement to the standard GPLv3.  If developers didn't like
GPLv3, they wouldn't use it, and if people don't use it, it can't do
it's job of protecting software freedom for computer users.  Instead,
FSF will publish a separate version, called the GNU Affero GPL, which
does include this requirement and each project can choose if they want
a GPLv3 with that requirement or without.

So, that's the background.  The second draft is online and comments
are being accepted via the same system used for GPLv3.  If you might
have something to say, go take a look!

Ciarán O'Riordan __________________ \ Support Free Software and GNU/Linux
http://ciaran.compsoc.com/ _________ \     Join FSFE's Fellowship:
http://fsfe.org/fellows/ciaran/weblog \      http://www.fsfe.org

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