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What is the decisive difference between LGPL(v3) and AGPL(v3) ?

Both can be used in commercial production, both can also be packed within a payed product. As long as I do not change the source code of these, I am not forced to enclose the source code with my product.

So where lies the eminent difference?

(Asked this also at, but a user suggested to ask it here.)

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Please don't cross post. – ChrisF Jun 12 '12 at 13:26
sorry for that, but I was suggested to ask that kind of question here instead of SO. I dont know why;( Where is the difference between programmers.stackexchange and SO ? – nimo23 Jun 12 '12 at 13:40
Check the FAQ for the differences. At it's most basic SO is for coding problems, Programmers is for program design type questions. – ChrisF Jun 12 '12 at 13:44
thanks! I get it:) – nimo23 Jun 12 '12 at 13:51
up vote 11 down vote accepted

roughly, as long as you application isn't just a wrapper around the library:

  • LGPL: you can link against and don't have to release source code as long as you don't modify the library itself
  • GPL: you have to release source code if you link against and distribute the binary, but don't if you just provide a service
  • AGPL: you have to allow the source to be downloaded even if you never distribute the binary but do provide a service

i.e. your understanding of the LGPL is probably correct but your understanding of the AGPL is very wrong

as always if you want proper advice for your use-case you need to hire a lawyer

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thanks jk - your answer is great! Imagine, I use MongoDB (which is licensed under AGPL) and provide a commercial website for users. Does every user need to know, that she is allowed to download the source of my website? How should I fullfill AGPL in such a case? – nimo23 Jun 12 '12 at 13:48
every user should be able to download the source, how prominently you need to advertise this I do not know, you would need a lawyer to advise on that – jk. Jun 12 '12 at 14:00
Okay thanks you have answered my question fine! – nimo23 Jun 12 '12 at 14:08
@nimo23 : more precisely about MongoDB licensing, you are safe because they clearly state that we promise that your client application which uses the database is a separate work see here : – Justin T. Jun 12 '12 at 17:02
@Justin T: what does " a separate work" mean? Imagine 2 scenarios: scenario I: "I have a commercial website online and I use mongodb as a backend, so all users can use my website and I am not forced to adhere to terms of AGPL as my website is a separate work". Scenario II: "I have a website and I use mongodb as a backend, I will sell the website to other customer and I am not forced to adhere to terms of AGPL as my website is a separate work". Are the 2 scenarios legal and right? – nimo23 Jun 13 '12 at 11:30

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