Free Software Foundation Releases GNU Affero General Public License version 3

Matt Lee mattl at
Mon Nov 19 16:43:41 UTC 2007

Free Software Foundation Releases GNU Affero General Public License
Version 3

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA---Monday, November 19, 2007---The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) today published the GNU Affero General Public
License version 3 (GNU AGPLv3). This is a new license; it is based on
version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GNU GPLv3), but has an
additional term to allow users who interact with the licensed software
overa network to receive the source for that program. By publishing this
license, the FSF aims to foster user and development communities around
network-oriented free software.

The GNU GPL allows people to modify the software they receive, and share
those modified versions with others, as long as they make source
available to the recipients when they do so. However, a user can modify
the software and run the modified version on a network server without
releasing it. Since use of the server does not imply that people can
download a copy of the program, this means the modifications may never
be released. Many programmers choose to use the GNU GPL to cultivate
community development; if many of the modifications developed by the
programs users are never released, this can be discouraging for them.
The GNU AGPL addresses their concerns. The FSF recommends that people
consider using the GNU AGPL for any software which will commonly be run
over a network.

Both GPLv3 and the GNU AGPL allow developers working on a project under
one license to combine it with code released under the other. As a
result, programmers who want to use the GNU AGPL for their own work can
take advantage of the many libraries and other source files available
under GPLv3. Developers working on GPLv3-covered projects will often be
able to use modules under the GNU AGPL with minimal hassle as well,
since the GNU AGPL's additional term has no requirements for software
that doesn't interact with users over a network.

FSF board member Benjamin Mako Hill said, "The GNU GPL has been the most
successful free software license because it makes a program's source
available to its users. This enables massive collaboration between
developers, since everyone gets the same benefits from this rule. The
GNU AGPL will enable the same kind of cooperation around web services
and other networked software."

A first draft of the GNU AGPL was published on June 5, and a second
draft on August 14. The FSF heard comments on both through its web-based
feedback system. "The GNU AGPL is very much a community license," said
Peter Brown, Executive Director of the FSF. "The feedback we received
while working on GPLv3 demonstrated a clear desire for this sort of
license. And thanks to the community's help during the drafting, we're
happy that the GNU AGPL meets those needs."

The final license is published at

About The Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software---particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants---and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Its Web site, located at, is
an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support
the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters
are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media contact

Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer
Free Software Foundation
617-542-5942 x18
brett at

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