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Google pays for Affero ban

Others to test SaaS license

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Google's ban on projects licensed under the Affero GPL license has claimed its first victim. The ClipperZ online password manager has defected to rival code host SourceForge.

ClipperZ said it was transferring from Google Code to SourceForge because it wanted to use AGPL. The AGPL-licensed Orangemesh open source dashboard server is also in the process of moving.

The projects will join around 10 other AGPL-licensed efforts on SourceForge, compared to six on Google Code. Before the defections, Google had been discouraging other AGPL projects, saying Google Code does not support AGPL.

The dispute between Google and developers who want to use AGPL - a version of GPLv3 tailored for use in software as a service - has rumbled on since last November, when AGPL was finalized.

Google's exact reasons for disallowing AGPL remain unclear.

Last November, Google open source program manager Chris DiBona cited a desire to fight proliferation of licenses, adding AGPL had very little market share and had not been certified by the license arbiter the Open Source Initiative.

These arguments are now irrelevant. AGPL was said to be in use by 42 projects after only a month on the OSI-approved list with its use considered important enough to be tracked by licensing specialist Palamida.

Last month, though, DiBona was back, saying AGPL "needs work or more history by a much greater number of adopters" before he'd consider it usable.

Google is a provider of its own SaaS, with things like Gmail and Google Docs and Spreadsheets. It seems DiBona is waiting to see how other SaaS providers deal with clauses that grant recipients a license to run, modify or propagate your work, and for modifications to come with source code.

Pro-AGPL developers have accused Google of blocking the AGPL license because it closes the so-called "ASP loophole'". This omission in the standard GPL license allows service suppliers, such as Google, to improve on open source code with no obligation to pass improvements back to the open source community.

Whatever its reasons, Google needs to get its house in order. ClipperZ is still listed on Google Code along with several other projects licensed under AGPL including Groups Wiki, shogiserver and the inactive Edozun7

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