New cloud applications drive popularity of the AGPL license

Diaspora, the hottest new open source project, is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License or AGPL. So are two other new, popular cloud applications, RapidFTR and ownCloud. Add to that popular forges Launchpad and Gitorious. According to Black Duck data, the number of AGPL projects grew 74% in 2010. The numbers and profiles of AGPL-licensed projects are becoming significant. So what is this AGPL thing and what does it mean to you?
First, a one-paragraph tutorial on open source licensing: All software is copyrighted. When you use software it is with the author’s permission in the form of a license. Open source licenses allow users to not just use, but also to redistribute and modify source code. The philosophy behind them is to facilitate collaboration and contribution. Some open source licenses (known as copyleft or reciprocal licenses) require that any modifications to the software be licensed under the same license if they are distributed. One of those, GPL, is by far the most popular open source license; over 50% of the freely available software is under the GPL.

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