I am building an iOS application, and I am planning to incorporate an AGPL 3.0-licensed library to it to provide some extra (non-essential) functionality. I’ve got a couple of questions regarding this:

  1. Do I understand it right that this still obliges me to publish the source of my app open? If yes, does it have to be open to the general public, or only to those who have downloaded the app?
  2. Does this allow me to distribute the app for a fee?
  • This is odd, the AGPL generally doesn't make sense for non-web apps, since the AGPL was designed for server-side code that was not technically distributed. Can you name the library?
    – Craig
    Mar 29, 2012 at 20:43
  • @Craig, the library I want to use is written in JavaScript and made functional both as a Node.js module and in-browser script. Just in my case, I want to include that into a native iOS app.
    – Arnold
    Mar 29, 2012 at 22:19
  • @Craig - AGPL designed for any code, single difference (notable) from GPL is availability of sources of AGPL-licensed network services, as Daniel said Mar 30, 2012 at 11:08
  • Be aware a that there is (or at least there was) some debate about GPLed apps in the Apple App store so if your App must be GPLed because of the library you are including you may want to make sure this won't run into conflicts with the App Store TOS.
    – Craig
    Mar 30, 2012 at 16:04
  • @Craig how exactly may this conflict with the App Store TOS?
    – Arnold
    Mar 31, 2012 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are obliged to make the source code available, under the same terms as the AGPL - which are almost equivalent to the GPL, by design.

Technically, the GPL requires that source is distributed only to people who ask for it, and who have received a copy of the binary. You are not obliged to go beyond that, although you cant stop, eg, me from giving the binary to Mary, and Mary asking for the source through me.

The additional nature of the AGPL is that if you put the AGPL component into a service that is never distributed, but is used by others, you are also obliged to make it available to them.

Since the AGPLv3 and the GPLv3 are almost identical, "Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?" applies to you also. In other words, "yes, totally, go right ahead".

You can't stop me buying a copy, getting the source, and distributing both free of charge - but you can totally put it, eg, in the iOS market and charge anything you want. (You can't stop me doing the same, and pricing it one cent lower than you do, though, so the model can be ... risky.)

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