The GPLv3 and AGPLv3 are quite similar. They differ only by

  • an additional requirement in the AGPL that makes a network service powered by a modified AGPL-licensed work operates like conveyance of the work (and therefore imposes source-sharing requirements)
  • an additional permission in the AGPL that GPLv3-licensed work can be included in an AGPL-licensed work

The FSF has put much work into determining the GPL compatibility of various licenses, but no obvious work into compatibility for the AGPL. (This makes sense, since the GPL is much more popular, of course.)

  1. Can I safely assume that any given license's compatibility with the GPL and its compatibility with the AGPL will be the same?
  2. If not, under what circumstances would they differ?

Within the GPL family of licenses, GPL compatibility and AGPL compatibility are identical:

Each place that the matrix states GPLv3, the same statement about compatibility is true for AGPLv3 as well.

This is likely due to the explicit coordination in the section 13 of the AGPL and GPLv3 itself. In any case, I am interested in how other licenses have differing or identical compatibility between the GPLv3 and AGPLv3.

  • 1
    Note: I know the answer to the first question is "no" (I wrote a very brief answer to this question as a subtopic here) but I am interested in having a full-fleshed out, standalone answer that can be used as a canonical reference.
    – apsillers
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:49
  • As per the wikipedia page of GNU AGPL page here AGPL , Linking from code with a different license: Only with GNU GPLv3. The GNU AGPL terms will apply for the GNU AGPL part in a combined work.
    – Jijo Bose
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 6:42
  • Referring to 1) "any License" - I can imagine I license code stating that "the code must not be distributed with AGPL but GPL is fine" - no-one would do that but in my view it breaks the compatibility. So I would rephrase the question to: "Of all known open-source licenses, is there one which is compatible with GPLv3 but not AGPL?" I think this would reduce the amount of comparisons from what is imaginable to what is testable. If we can say yes/no, your question is answered.
    – User
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 19:50
  • "the code must not be distributed with AGPL" is an additional restriction over the GPL which makes it incompatible with the GPL and the AGPL. The AGPL is only compatible with the GPL and the other way around because both licenses state explicitly that they are compatible. Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


One may directly make a GPLv3 adaption of a CC BY-SA 4.0 work since there is a provision in the CC BY-SA 4.0 license that the GPLv3 is a 'compatible' license and that in such a case a downstream user can comply with the CC BY-SA 4.0 terms by only complying with the terms of the GPLv3. One may NOT directly make a AGPLv3 adaption of a CC BY-SA 4.0 work since the AGPLv3 is not a pre-approved compatible license. One can probably indirectly make a AGPLv3 combined work by first making a GPLv3 adaption and then take advantage of the GPLv3/AGPLv3 compatibility clauses (but in this case I think the CC-BY-SA-4.0-adapted-to-GPLv3 covered work must still technically be under a GPLv3 license and not under an AGPLv3 license i.e. you'd have to write a clearly separate AGPLv3 work to combine with the GPLv3 adaption).



Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.