Saturday, April 12, 2008

More feedback about Google and AGPL

Somehow, the discussion around Google and their stance against AGPL is generating quite a bit of discussions around the web. It is a juicy story, after all ;-)

The Register wrote an interesting article about how Google is starting to pay for banning AGPL. In particular, one of the very cool projects they have on Google Code - called Clipperz - has decided to abandon Google Code. Orangemesh (an open source dashboard server) is also in the process of moving.

The Register concluded:
Whatever its reasons, Google needs to get its house in order. ClipperZ is still listed on Google Code along with several other projects licensed under AGPL including Groups Wiki, shogiserver and the inactive Edozun7.
So, we are looking at a bunch of projects to be kicked out of Google Code. Not a problem for Google, they have tons of projects and they are happy to see them going.

Some disagree with Google, for example Bradley M. Kuhn who left this message on my blog:
I don't think Chris (DiBona) is being completely public about Google's full reasoning. The AGPL is a license that Google clearly dislikes for its own proprietary reasons — they have a vested corporate interest in impeding its popularity. I believe they are choosing not to allow AGPL'd code on their systems primarily for those reasons, and the “not popular enough” argument is a convenient excuse (now that they've lost their battle inside the OSI to block its approval).

It's disingenuous to compare licenses like the Nokia Public License to a license published by the FSF, which has a 25 year history of publishing licenses that do become popular over time, and also is opposed to license proliferation, and was so even back when OSI was in favor of proliferation. The FSF didn't write the AGPL just put its own stamp on a document which is otherwise nearly the same as other licenses (which is the common MO of license proliferation). AGPL is trying to address a completely new threat to the freedom of software users, and it happens to be a freedom that Google has a corporate interest in impeding.

The place where Chris and I agree wholeheartedly is that you shouldn't use to host your FLOSS project. I recommend a host that will let you see all the source code of your hosting software, and build upon it, and not get locked in. is no better than google in this regard; I'd suggest Gna! or Savannah.
Huuuh, nice close ;-) Is Google pissing off the community a bit too much?