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I co-develop a FOSS DNS client and a DNS stub-resolver which builds blocklists based off of the nextdns/metadata repository. Recently, I happened to notice that there's at least one AGPLv3 blocklist (ZeroDot1's CoinBlocker list specifically) that the nextdns/metadata repository links to (and which the NextDNS resolver) and our FOSS stub resolver uses it, but under a different name viz. Cryptojacking Protection.

A couple questions:

  1. Do SaaS DNS resolvers (like NextDNS and us, RethinkDNS) that use these blocklists (host files) violate AGPLv3 (when the SaaS code itself is not distributed under AGPLv3)?

  2. If I combine/merge an AGPLv3 host file (blocklist) with other host files and distribute the combined/merged host file (blocklist), do I have to make the source code that was used to combine/merge the host files available under AGPLv3, too?

  3. If I retroactively remove traces of any AGPLv3 licensed blocklists from my SaaS, do I stop violating AGPLv3? That is, can I undo violation and keep my code under existing licenses (MPLv2 and Apache v2).

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Does your application actually depend on that particular repository to function, or could it work with any repository that contains appropriately formatted and named blocklists?

I expect it would be the latter and in that case, there is no problem at all.

  1. Do SaaS DNS resolvers (like NextDNS and us, RethinkDNS) that use these blocklists (host files) violate AGPLv3 (when the SaaS code itself is not distributed under AGPLv3)?

No. The blocklists are just data for the SaaS DNS resolvers and the respective licenses do not affect each other. This is the same as that the license of a word editor does not affect how you can license the document you wrote with it.

  1. If I combine/merge an AGPLv3 host file (blocklist) with other host files and distribute the combined/merged host file (blocklist), do I have to make the source code that was used to combine/merge the host files available under AGPLv3, too?

No. The answer is the same as for the first question.


As a side note, it is even questionable if the hosts file from the CoinBlocker list is actually protected by copyright at all.

Copyright protect the creative expressions of a human and if the hosts file is just a list of data without any creative content, then it is not subject to copyright protection at all.

In that case, the AGPL license indication on the repository does not have any meaning for that particular file and can be ignored (for that file).

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