[Freedombox-discuss] AGPL code for the FreedomBox?
I was just glancing at the frontend that James Vasile pushed up to
github, and I noticed that it was licensed under the AGPL.
One of the side effects of putting a server in every house (or perhaps
more than one, as the prices plummet and people start wearing servers
like jewelry) is that we're going to instantly transform our ordinary
user from a semi-passive consumer of data to an active server of data,
dishing out the 1's and 0's to all who navigate to their IP address.
The AGPL will present certain challenges for us as a project.
As I understand it, the AGPL requires the distribution of source code
to public-facing AGPLed network services running on a machine. If I
take this prototype FreedomBox front-end and run it on my plug server,
I'll have to provide the source on that machine (or a link elsewhere).
I'm curious what will happen when the links hard-coded into 100,000
FreedomBoxes (or someone else's copycat project) go stale.
The AGPL does make certain allowances for persons to pass-along a
written source offer, but I think those won't be relevant for this
1) It's unclear that there ever will be a written offer (my guess is
that source requirements will generally be met via the network)
2) There are conditions restricting this to non-commercial use, and it
could be difficult to prove that a person's FreedomBox is a wholly
The AGPL notes that "Regardless of what server hosts the Corresponding
Source, you remain obligated to ensure that it is available for as
long as needed to satisfy these requirements." Of course, we're
talking about users here who don't know /var from /etc, and who think
that their computer OS is "Internet Explorer". They probably don't
have the tech chops to meet the requirements.
Is anyone going to take Suzy's grandmother to task for not properly
abiding by the AGPL? No, probably not (unless Suzy's grandmother's
name is Grace Hopper), but I believe that it's important that we think
carefully about any licensing obligations that we're placing on end
users. If our target audience will be unable to rectify licensing
problems, I think we should either plan very carefully to make sure
that end users are never placed in the position of having to deal with
licensing problems, or we should choose licenses that will not place
such requirements on end users.
Don't get me wrong here -- I'm quite supportive of putting AGPLed
software into the FreedomBox -- I just want us to have a solid plan in
place so that code under the AGPL license is a benefit to our end
users, not a burden.