Honest Public Licensing: Q&A With Fabrizio CapobiancoHonest Public Licensing: Q&A With Fabrizio Capobianco
The other week, I wrote about the <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/05/closing_the_ope.html" target="_blank">ASP loophole</a> in open source, in which I took the stance that the loophole wasn't as egregious as it might seem. Not everyone agrees, of course, and some have decided to take pre-emptive action by either moving to the AGPLv3 (a variant of GPLv3 that addresses software as a service) or drafting entirely new licensing altogether. Among those do
May 19, 2008
The other week, I wrote about the ASP loophole in open source, in which I took the stance that the loophole wasn't as egregious as it might seem. Not everyone agrees, of course, and some have decided to take pre-emptive action by either moving to the AGPLv3 (a variant of GPLv3 that addresses software as a service) or drafting entirely new licensing altogether. Among those doing the latter: Fabrizio Capobianco of Funambol, with his Honest Public License. To get a better idea of what it's all about, I asked him a few questions. Q: Was there a specific event that triggered your decision to create the HPL, and then adopt the AGPLv3? A: The HPL was created because we felt there was an urgent need to address the ASP loophole in the GPLv2. When Funambol introduced the HPL, we said right from the beginning that as soon as there was an OSI-approved version of the license that addressed the ASP Loophole, that we would switch to it. This is because there is a concern about the proliferation of too many different yet similar open source licenses confusing people. So that is why we pushed to have the AGPLv3 approved by the OSI and why we switched to it the second it became OSI approved, because the world really does have quite a few different open source licenses and by virtue of using an OSI-approved license, it cuts down on the number of proprietary vendor-written licenses. Q: Have you encountered feedback (positive or negative) from others offering open source software about this idea? A: We encountered very significant positive feedback from the community. Many projects have already switched to the AGPL. The only real negative came from Google. They do not like the AGPL because they would not be able to use that code without returning changes to the community. We feel it is not fair for service providers to pick what they want to return to the community (such as the modifications to the Linux file system, which made Google possible, and which were made public). If you use open source, you should behave as a good open source citizen and not take advantage of loopholes. The AGPL addresses the ASP loophole and solves the issue. Q: Do you think this license (AGPLv3) will receive broader adoption, or will it be something used for specific circumstances? A: With the unstoppable move of software towards SaaS (software as a service), we believe the AGPL will become one of the most used open source licenses. The AGPL is the open source license of the future, when software will mostly be run as a service.
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