The new challenge for freesoftware enthusiasts is the menace called 'Cloud Computing
' which is basically Software as a Service(SaaS) shrouded in a catchy name. The new licence AGPLv3
is framed precisely to counter this unhealthy trend.
Numerous service oriented web applications are available in GPL. Some business poeple use these freesoftware in web applications and proprietary modules are added to it. These are to be included in source code form under GPL when the software is distributed since these are derivative works. But the software is never distributed as such. Instead, the enhanced services are made available for the users through the web medium.
That is, GPL enforces the reciprocity of giving back the modified code by the copyleft clause. But this clause can be circumvent when such freesoftware is used in SaaS and it is known as the ASP loophole. Instead of addressing this issue in GPLv3 itself, a separate AGPLv3 takes care of such loopholes.
One web operated company that largely makes use of such a loophole is Google, which uses many FLOSS tools. Maybe, for the same reason, Google Code
does not allow hosting any AGPL projects. More and more players are getting interested in Cloud Computing. RMS
has already warned
about this trap. It will take a lengthy post to elaborate on the perils this new business paradigm.
is said to be a AGPL'd webmail application which competes with(hopefully) and somewhat mimic Gmail. So, it is, in a way, 'AGPLMail is not Gmail'
sort of thing. It is materialized by Ben Webb
, a teenager who dreams of freedom in computing. (Quiz: Which is the popular freesoftware browser invented by another teenager?)
By the way, one very good AGPL'd software is Laconica
, which powers Identi.ca
, the increasingly popular microblogging service, a la Twitter.