GPL License with clause for Web use?

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Nov 21 13:36:38 UTC 2007

On Wed, 2007-11-21 at 13:11 +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> Alex Hudson <home at> writes:
> > This sounds a really trolly question, so I apologise in advance :) How
> > do you square freedom zero with your previous statement about
> > restricting public use to those people willing to distribute source?
> *You* can use AGPL'd code for any purpose, but making it available for
> others to use is not *you* using it for a purpose, so it's not a freedom
> zero issue.
> The practice of "making it available for others to use" is more similar to
> "giving copies to others", which the GPL has always attached requirements
> to.

I guess this definition of "user" is actually the nub of it.

As a specific example, let's say I have a web content management system
which is licensed under the AGPL. 

I would be relatively happy to say that people managing websites using
that CMS would be "users": for example, if a business takes the CMS,
makes interesting modifications and sells access to that software, I can
see the reasoning for making source available to those people who've
bought access.

However, I don't see that visitors to the websites being managed by the
CMS are "users" - they're viewing the output of the CMS for sure, and
interacting with it in a limited way, but not much more than that.
Providing a potentially multi-megabyte download to any of those users
could be a real pain: e.g., OpenCMS (it's not AGPL, but..) is almost
40Mb to download.

AGPL covers both situations. It comes down to this: if I put PDFs on my
website, people aren't entitled to my But people
accessing my HTML are entitled to my AGPL'd CMS. The "user" is the same
in both IMHO.



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