The project I was working on is open source and uses the AGPL license. Every file has the AGPL header.

I have a personal project that I would like to commercialize. I really want to reuse a file from the open-source project, but I'm not sure if I am allowed to.

  • 2
    Usually, the copyright in work performed by an employee for a company belongs to the employer. This is explicitly mentioned in some employment agreements, but laws in many jurisdictions say the same. How is it in your case, who owns the copyright in the code of that project? Jun 18, 2023 at 7:26
  • Your previous company was presumably able to commercialise their code, despite it being under AGPL. Couldn't you do the same? Jun 19, 2023 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


You have two very different questions here:

  1. Are you allowed to reuse the code in your personal project? Yes, if and only if the code was released to the public - but you must then obey the AGPL as you are almost certainly not the copyright holder. If the code was not released to the public, you shouldn't have a copy of it.

  2. Can you commercialize your project? Yes, the AGPL allows commercial use, as must every open source license.

  • 1
    Yes the code was released to the public, but I would rather not have to use AGPL for my personnal project. I guess I won't reuse the code!
    – Simon Tran
    Jun 18, 2023 at 9:58
  • 3
    @SimonTran - In that case, I'd just email your old employer and ask... They'll probably be more than happy to grant you a personal license to use it as you so wish given you wrote it. It's not like there would be any commercial reason for them not to if they've AGPLd it Jun 19, 2023 at 8:08
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    @ScottishTapWater For all we know, OP's old employer could be running a commercial service using the codebase, using the AGPL to prevent others from setting up a competing commercial service. In that case, they might well not like OP's plan.
    – TooTea
    Jun 19, 2023 at 22:25
  • 1
    @TooTea regardless, if he doesn't want to use the license it was released under, he needs to go ask for a different license. The copyright holder's potential unwillingness to entertain that request does not open up any different (legal) avenues.
    – fectin
    Jun 20, 2023 at 0:54

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