Google Advises Against AGPL Fools

The tech giant prefers developers to avoid participating in this event.

SwitchUpCB, PhD
4 min readApr 1


Photo by Alex Dudar on Unsplash

Developers in the Open Source Software (OSS) community are changing the license of their software to the AGPLv3 license in celebration of April Fools’. Tech giants such as Google are advising against this behavior.

Here is what you need to know.

What Is The AGPL License?

The GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) is a strong copyleft license published by the Free Software Foundation. This license permits developers to use a given software upon the condition that its source code is always distributed to the end user. It also requires developers to leave the license intact upon redistribution of the software.

The AGPL license was created to patch the Application Service Provider loophole in the GNU General Public License (GPL). This GPL license loophole unintentionally lets Software as a Service (SaaS) companies — who provide applications as a service — run GPL-licensed software over the network without adhering to the GPL license terms.

The AGPL license is identical to the original GPL license except for the Application Service Provider loophole patch: This requires people who link (i.e import, copy, etc) the software from the network to adhere to the AGPL terms. In other words, developers who use, modify, and distribute AGPL software must provide their modifications to the public.

The Google AGPL Policy

The “Google AGPL Policy” advises its developers against using software licensed under the AGPL.

WARNING: Code licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) MUST NOT be used at Google.

The license places restrictions on software used over a network which are extremely difficult for Google to comply with. Using AGPL software requires that anything it links to must also be licensed under the AGPL. Even if you think you aren’t linking to anything important, it still presents a huge risk to Google because of how integrated much of our code is. The risks heavily outweigh the benefits.

Google AGPL Policy