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 <>

Media Contact: Affero
Henri Poole <>

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, is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.

About Affero:

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 They are headquartered in San Francisco, CA, USA.