I'm developing a piece of software (a WordPress plugin) in PHP and Javascript and CSS. The PHP code must be licensed under GPL, but CSS and Javascript can be under another license (as far as I've understood).

I'm thinking about writing a more permissive version of the AGPL license, and use it, for Javascript and CSS. It would be like the AGPL, but it would only concern files accessible over the network (e.g. Javascript and CSS).


  1. I want users of my software, and small companies that use and produce open source software, to be able to use my plugin for free, without having to publish any GPL licensed server side code (PHP code).

  2. At the same time, I might not want "big companies" to copy all code I've written, without paying me something. — Most "big companies" would probably be unable to use the AGPL-like license discussed here, and instead I would offer them to buy a commercial license.

Question 1: Is this a bad / impossible idea, for some reason?

Question 2: Are there any obvious problems with the below license text? (Is this okay to ask here? If not, please consider editing this question to remove this part of it — or add a comment to me, that I should remove it)

...The AGPL v3 license text..., see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.html

Additional permission under the GNU Affero GPL version 3 section 7:

If you modify or combine this Program, or any covered work,
by linking or combining it with other code, then any such
other code not accessible remotely through a computer
network, is not, for that reason alone (i.e. linking or combining
it) subject to any of the requirements of the GNU Affero GPL
version 3 or later.

Related link: Lesser Affero GPLv3

  • Why not just use the AGPL?
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 21:01
  • @ColeJohnson because the AGPL would effectively mean that everyone who uses website from which the JS and CSS gets downloaded now has to opensource everything on their computer under the AGPL. Which of course would never hold up in court, but try getting a clause like that through your legal department.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 12:51
  • 1
    @jwenting: no, not everything on their computer, just the derivative works. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 16:34
  • @whatsisname if you read the AGPL strictly, everything that directly or indirectly communicates with anything AGPL licensed must be itself AGPL licensed. That includes not just derivative works, but software including a library that's AGPL licensed, software calling a webservice that's AGPL licensed, etc. And that'd include the web browser the computer is running, which is itself embedded in many things, and called by and sending data to the operating system which would then have to be AGPL licensed, which would infect everything installed on the machine.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 6:04
  • 4
    @jwenting Your interpretation of the AGPL is highly unusual, and seems to contradict the intention of the AGPL. I wonder under which legal theory such a strict license would be enforceable, since international copyright law doesn't give you any rights over works you didn't create. This sounds like an interesting question for Open Source.
    – amon
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


It’s pointless to write your own license.

  1. 99.999% of people will ignore it anyway.
  2. 0.0001% will read it and reject it because they don’t understand it, or could never get Legal to agree to it.
  3. Any license without the firepower of somebody like $MegaCorp$ or the FSF behind it is doomed anyway. How many lawyers can you afford to defend against it in London/Tokyo while they clock up $1000/hour costs deciding what is a “large company”?
  • The license actually grants additional permissions, in addition to what is already permitted by the AGPL. Are you arguing that people would ignore the additional permissions? I don't think people would ignore permissions? Well and if they do, then — they would probably abide by the license anyway :-) Without knowing it.
    – KajMagnus
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 18:17
  • However those 0.0001% that read it, and don't want to adhere to the AGPL licese + some more permissions — well, they're supposed to buy a commercial license. — Actually there are other companies that license their code under a pure AGPL license, and then sell commercial licenses, to companies that don't want to use the AGPL license (and thus open source their own code). Neo4j is one example and the Aloha editor another.
    – KajMagnus
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 18:20
  • 1
    @KajMagnus it doesn't matter. If i use a 'standard' license I (and my company lawyers) know what it means. If you change anything then I'm am potentially going to have problems downstream. Perhaps a simple change eg. wx (LGPL but you can static link on platforms without dlls). You seem to be negating parts of the AGPL in your addition, but it would take a team of lawyers to decide what you meant! Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 18:22
  • 2
    @KajMagnus, you can simply say GPL or buy commercial and that would work - remember you need to get the copyright of any contributions assigned to you. I'm just saying that in most companies a non-FSF known license == not worth the effort of reading Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 18:24
  • 2
    @KajMagnus, in most companies the developers have to get this approved. I can explain to my boss, MIT/BSD=ok, LGPL=~ok, GPL=careful. But a change of a single comma means that down the road we are potentially going to have to pay $$$$ to lawyers, and my boss is going to get blamed. Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 18:28

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