The AGPL: Solution in Search of a Problem

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In the early days of commercial open source, misinformation was a major impediment to adoption. Many enterprises, for example, explicitly forbade usage of code released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). When asked about the justification for this prohibition, the most common response centered around difficult-to-articulate concerns about being compelled to open source code they did not wish to. The fear that this “viral” license would infect their private repositories was rampant.

The truth, as became obvious following the mainstream adoption of GPL-licensed projects like Linux and MySQL, is that this was never the risk it was perceived to be. Simple usage of these technologies does not trigger the reciprocal provisions of the license, those that require modifications to be distributed under the same terms as the original source code, i.e. the GPL. More to the point, even if it was the case that applications built on top of Linux or MySQL were regarded as modifications, enterprises would not be subject to the terms of the license because of the so-called ASP loophole.

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