Version 3 of the Affero GPL was approved by the OSI last week, leading one of its advocates to suggest it should become the most popular version over time. (Picture from last October's VentureCamp for Blognation.)
As the software industry increasingly moves to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, Fabrizio Capobianco (right) of Funambol writes, the AGPL's closing of the "ASP loophole" will become a vital protection for software users.
The loophole defines what's delivered by a SaaS vendor as a service, not software, meaning they are not required to disclose improvements to the original code. Capobianco considers this dishonest.
He is so adamant on this point that in 2006 he wrote what he called the Honest Public License to prohibit that.
Who is the target of Capobianco's wrath?
One company benefiting from it is Google, abusing open source software for their benefit (aren't you interested in seeing the modification to the Linux file system they did to run their gazillion of servers? I am ;-) In fact, they pushed for the ASP loophole to be ratified in GPL v3 and they submitted it to OSI for approval. They love the loophole. They made a business around it (and what a business!!). They got GPL v3 OSI approved...
In other words, even Google's GPL efforts are far from the real bottom of the open source incline.
To be fair, support for Affero is also meant to contrast Capobianco's own company with our Googlemeisters:
For a company in this position to base its software and business on this license is to set an example for the industry and to send a message to open source projects and commercial organizations that this license is good and viable such that they should consider adopting it for their own purposes.
In his blog post on Affero, Capobianco seems almost delighted at the opposition of Google's Chris DiBona to the AGPL, especially after Eben Moglen disagreed with him, writing "there are many development projects that would benefit from considering the use of AGPLv3."
Like Funambol, for starters, which licenses its Community Edition under AGPLv3. But is this an important distinction? Does this create a new floor for the open source incline, or should the AGPL just stay in the basement?[poll id=70]