Brussels / 2 & 3 February 2013


Panel Discussion: GNU Affero General Public License, version 3

This panel will discuss the GNU Affero General Public License, version 3 (AGPLv3), a copyleft license which includes a clause designed to ensure that users of network-deployed applications receive complete corresponding source code for the deployed application.

AGPLv3 has roots in the early 2000s, when some free software advocates called attention to what some described as an “Application Service Provider loophole” in GPLv2. One response was AGPLv1, a modification of GPLv2 published by Affero, Inc. and drafted with Free Software Foundation (FSF)'s help. AGPLv1 and contemporary licenses addressing this policy issue saw limited adoption..

Many expected, and some strongly advocated for, FSF to incorporate the Affero clause into GPLv3. Instead, in 2007 the FSF drafted a separate license, AGPLv3, containing an additional requirement that modified versions of a program offer access to corresponding source to all users interacting with AGPLv3'd programs through a network.

AGPLv3 has seen little adoption by individual free software developers and community projects for various reasons. Yet notable exceptions exist, such as GNU MediaGoblin. Currently, AGPLv3's most common use is by businesses as a means of promoting purchases of proprietary software licenses, a practice often criticized by some framers of AGPLv3. Meanwhile, some corporate open source users have investigated the issue of AGPLv3 compliance. Awareness of AGPLv3 has steadily increased with the growing focus on “Cloud Computing”.

This panel, comprised of a few of the world's foremost experts on AGPLv3, seeks to discuss and explain all issues surrounding AGPLv3 and contemplate the future of AGPLv3 as a viable copyleft license.


  • Moderator: Richard Fontana, IP Counsel at Red Hat. Richard is responsible for open source legal matters at Red Hat, and in his prior role at the Software Freedom Law Center he was co-drafter of GPLv3 and AGPLv3. He is an active public speaker on FLOSS legal and policy issues.
  • Eileen Evans, Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Cloud & Open Source, Hewlett-Packard Company. Eileen has spoken on complex open source issues at many open source conferences in the U.S. and in Europe and with governmental bodies, such as the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament.
  • Bradley M. Kuhn, Executive Director, Software Freedom Conservancy and Member of FSF's Board of Directors. Kuhn invented the original Affero clause, and helped draft AGPLv1 and AGPLv3. Kuhn is also widely known for his work in Free Software licensing compliance and Free Software non-profit management.
  • Christopher Allan Webber, Lead Developer, GNU MediaGoblin (free software image, audio, video publishing platform). Activist and developer for free software and network services freedom. Previously worked at Creative Commons as software engineer (and occasionally involved in licensing as well). Presently works fulltime on GNU MediaGoblin via money raised in a crowdfunding campaign in conjunction with the Free Software Foundation.


Bradley M. Kuhn
Richard Fontana
Christopher Webber
Eileen Evans