I recently noticed that the Joplin license has changed from MIT -> AGPL. This means it will be off limits in pretty much any tech company with an open source policy. Every company where I've ever worked forbids the use of AGPL software. I can't post links on this forum, but you can see many more examples of the problems caused by AGPL if you do a Google search for [which companies forbid agpl].
I understand why you might want to license Joplin Server this way, since there is a risk of someone running a fork as a SaaS. But can the client at least be switched to GPL or some other reasonable license?
I think the companies that have this kind of open source policy, they have it against both GPL and AGPL. It means you can't use a library with these licenses because any change an employee make would have to be shared back, and some companies don't want that. But that applies to both AGPL and GPL so even if we change it, the problem will still be the same.
In any case we haven't heard of any company who has a problem with this. If we do perhaps we can reconsider but it's very unlikely.
I think the companies that have this kind of open source policy, they have it against both GPL and AGPL.
This has not been my experience. Corporate legal departments are uniquely wary of the Affero licenses because they contain vague conditions that affect usage over a network. There are many many companies who allow Linux, GPLv3, and other standard FOSS software but forbid the use of AGPL software.
It means you can't use a library with these licenses because any change an employee make would have to be shared back, and some companies don't want that.
That is not the issue here. The percentage of Joplin users who want to: 1) modify the code; and 2) redistribute the modified code; and 3) avoid sharing their modifications, is infinitesimally small compared to the percentage of Joplin users who just want to run the stock released binaries and use it as a note-taking app on their work computer.
Unfortunately it is the latter use case that is most negatively impacted by the conflict between AGPL and corporate policies.
In any case we haven't heard of any company who has a problem with this.
As stated above: your forum doesn't allow me to post URLs (why?), but if you do a Google search for [which companies forbid agpl] you'll find many such instances. One very public example is this:
HN comments indicate that the same is true at most/all of the big name tech firms (and most don't have a "check with OSPO" process for requesting an exception).
Also, since I've already set up Joplin the way I like it and I don't want to switch, I'd be willing to pay for a license agreement that lets me continue using the latest versions of Joplin without agreeing to the AGPL terms. Just for personal / work use. Proprietary license is fine.
If this is cool I'll Paypal you USD $100 right away. Let me know.
I'll agree there's some hostility to AGPL in corporate environments. I'd tried to get an AGPL ticketing system setup for work use and the powers that be didn't appreciate the nature of open source software.
But I don't think the hostility is exactly warranted, if you're not modifying the source code, then the only thing you'd need to do even if you did distribute the software or allow it to be accessible over the network is provide a link to the Github repo. That satisfies the license requirements. It's an unmodified copy, so there's no need to host your own repo, on your own infrastructure, or anything else. The code is already easily accessible.
And even if you do modify the source code, that modification has to be conveyed to be covered under the license. I.E, a company can still make private modifications for internal use without sharing it, so long as they don't intentionally expose it to the public. If they do expose it to the public, then the license is working as designed by forcing the modifications to be open.
Ultimately, I don't see the license itself stopping this. It's a stock unmodified copy, even if you did propogate it, the code's already open.
It's not warranted. Corporate lawyers generally are not reasonable people, because they are incentivized to minimize perceived legal risk even if it comes at the expense of developer productivity. In the immortal words of Michael Jackson: They Don't Care About Us.
Fact is: AGPL software usage is banned at most large tech companies and there isn't a damn thing that I (or any other random nobody programmer) can do about it. It was banned at my last job, it's banned at my current job, and it will almost certainly be banned at my next job.
Hence my request to either change the license, or purchase an exemption. Laurent, will you take my $100?
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