Free Software Foundation Announces Support of the Affero General
Public License, the First Copyleft License for Web Services
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Media Contact: Free Software Foundation
Bradley M. Kuhn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Media Contact: Affero
Henri Poole <email@example.com>
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Tuesday, March 19th, 2002 -
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announces support for and invites
public comment on the first public license designed to protect software
distributed as web services: the Affero General Public License (AGPL).
The AGPL combines the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) V2 with one
additional provision to address software used by the public over a
network. The new provision enables the author to ensure that users will
have the right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute that
software, by providing a mechanism for downloading the source and
restricting the removal of the mechanism.
The FSF has worked since its inception in 1985 to promote freedom for
computer users to share and change software. In January, 1989, the FSF
released the GNU GPL Version 1. It empowered free software developers by
providing a mechanism which ensured that all users be entitled to use,
study, copy, modify, and redistribute the software.
The FSF modified the license in 1991 to meet changes in technology and
business, with the goal to continue the protection of users' freedoms.
The license has since been adopted by thousands of software developers,
from individuals to large organizations such as IBM (NYSE: IBM).
Eben Moglen, board member and general legal counsel to the Free Software
Foundation, said: “We are eager to solve problems experienced by free
software companies, like Affero, who are exploring new business models and
meeting new challenges that threaten the freedom of software.”
Affero is delivering a new online service which empowers members of
virtual communities to recognize and reward positive contributions with
feedback and donations to non-profits and the causes they support. The
company, committed to the idealism embodied in the GNU GPL, requires full
protection of software freedom for their user and partner community.
Because Affero's service is run over a network by their users, Affero
needed the additional provision to the GNU GPL. The FSF worked with
Affero to address the licensing requirements for their business model and
is considering including this additional provision in the upcoming version
of the GNU GPL 3.0 and is inviting public comment.
Affero's software enables any user to download its complete source code on
any screen in the user interface. The new licensing provision protects
the removal of this feature, ensuring that the existing software and any
derivative works continue to be available to the general public under the
same terms as the original work. “As an advocate for the individual, full
access to Affero's source code is essential to our service” comments Henri
Poole, President of Affero. “We are building tools to reward sharing and
enable more effective community dialogue, and these communities and their
members should be fully empowered to run, copy, distribute, study, change
and improve the software. With new web-delivered services, we need a
license which will weld the virtual door open.”
For full text of the Affero General Public License, please visit:
Public comments about the Affero General Public License can be sent to:
About 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. Their web site, located at
http://www.gnu.org, is an important source of information about
GNU/Linux. They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.
Affero, Inc., founded in 2001, was established to empower individuals
to introduce their communities to non-profit organizations, projects
and causes. Services combine a rating system with a commerce system.
Individuals can rate the value of contributions as well as make
donations on behalf of the efforts extended by community participants.
All funds pledged as as result of these interactions are disbursed to
beneficiaries of the volunteer's choice. Affero endorses the
development and use of Free Software and their web site can be found
at http://www.affero.org. They are headquartered in San Francisco,