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I am looking at opensource licenses and I feel a bit overwhelmed about AGPLv3.

Let's imagine that I would like to create a facebook clone. I would also like to self host my own object storage (for example min.io) in order to store user's picture. Min.io is distributed under AGPLv3 licence and what I found is that:

It does not matter whether it is free to use or a paid subscription for my users, but if I want to use an AGPLv3 distributed software, I have to distribute my own software under the same licence. So does it mean that I have to distribute my entire "facebook" project under opensource licence, even if I am just using it without any modifications and if I am running it on another server?

If so, even if commercial use is technically possible under AGPLv3, how is it possible to use it on a real world profitable company (I know that we should not confuse open source and free, but I can not wonder how I could make my "facebook" profitable if everybody can get all my code online)...

Please be easy on me since I am just going into opensource licences

Thanks

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    Is it possible to license your software under plain GPLv3 instead? In the AGPL there is a provision to allow that.
    – Brandin
    Aug 10, 2023 at 7:51
  • @Brandin But the GPLv3 software that is linked to AGPLv3 software would have to have its source code released to those interacting with it remotely through a computer network too as stated in Section 13 of AGPLv3: "This Corresponding Source shall include the Corresponding Source for any work covered by version 3 of the GNU General Public License that is incorporated pursuant to the following paragraph."
    – ruben2020
    Aug 11, 2023 at 19:06
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    @ruben2020 Yes that's a good point. Reading both paragraphs together, it seems that the intention is to allow compatibility with existing GPLv3 software, but indeed that GPLv3 software is supposed to be released in the same way as the AGPL if it is incorporated into the program.
    – Brandin
    Aug 14, 2023 at 5:58

2 Answers 2

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That's easy. If you look at min.io, it is actually available under AGPLv3 and a commercial license. They are two different licenses.

So if your software is to be licensed under a GPLv3-compatible license, then you can use min.io under AGPLv3.

However, if you intend to make your software proprietary and closed source, then you need to buy min.io's commercial license.

If you want to make money from your "facebook" (without making it open source and distributing it as such), then min.io needs to get their share of the money too, albeit upfront.

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One way to think about this is that AGPL v3 is open source for open source applications. Commercial applications "generally" need commercial licenses. One way to keep your code proprietary is the purchase a commercial license from Minio. This takes care of the obligations associated with the AGPL v3 license.

There are lots of different interpretations of the AGPL v3 license and it is somewhat polarizing. Further, it does not have a lot of case law associated with it which makes the interpretation difficult. It is, however, an approved license by Open Software Foundation.

You probably don't need a license to get started, but you will need to resolve it by the time you launch.

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