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AGPL Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Affero General Public License?
A: The Affero General Public License is the the GNU GPL V2 and "one additional feature", specifically covering the distribution of application programs through web services or computer networks.

Q: Is the Affero General Public License compatible with GPL V2?
A: No. This license constitutes GPL V2.X and the upgrade should be GPL V3. It should be upwards compatible with GPL V3 and later, not backward compatible to GPL V2. It "should" be, provided that GPL V3 has a provision which protects software that is run over networks and has a download source facility built in.

Q: Why is Affero using this license now?
A: Affero believes that it's community of users, partners, and developers should have certain rights to it's software if they begin to interact with it. Since the interaction occurs only over a network, the GNU GPL wasn't designed for protecting their freedoms. We did not wish to wait until the GNU GPL V3 was complete, so we began to pursue the development of our own license. The FSF was in the process of drafting GPL V3 and they allowed us to use GNU GPL V2 with this new provision.

Q: How does the Affero Public License differ from GPL V2?
A: The "one additional feature" - Section 2(d) reads as follows: " If the Program as you received it is intended to interact with users through a computer network and if, in the version you received, any user interacting with the Program was given the opportunity to request transmission to that user of the Program's complete source code, you must not remove that facility from your modified version of the Program or work based on the Program, and must offer an equivalent opportunity for all users interacting with your Program through a computer network to request immediate transmission by HTTP of the complete source code of your modified version or other derivative work."

Q: How does this license protect the author?
A: In addition to other protections already in place by the GNU GPL V2, the new download source function is non-removable under the license. Each author who makes derivative works and runs the work publically must not remove the download source functionality. This enables the original author, in this case Affero, to download the source and receive the benefit of any modifications to its original work.

Q: Can the application software be running on one server and the source another?
A: Yes.

Q: How does this license treat commercial enterprise use over intranets and internal networks?
A: Simply, if run internally to a commercial company, then the company isn't required to release source code back to the world. The license requires that if a user downloads the source they have the right to make improvements and not release these modifications. GNU GPL software in general addresses this issue the same way. If an employee has access to the source and has the right to make improvements, the commercial entity could probably view this work as work for hire and owned by the company and not have to be released outside.

Q: Can a commercial entity remove the download source button in a corporate intranet or internal networked environment?
A: No. Anyone who wants to use the software in a corporate intranet or internal network, must leave the download source button but doesn't have to make modifications available if not engaged in distribution. Anyone engaged in distribution beyond their enterprise must leave the download source button in place and make available the source for any modifications through this button.

Q: How do you define the enterprise networked together?
A: Employees connected through the employer's internal networks.

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