Why isn't delta licensed as AGPL?

to me, feels like delta chat should be AGPL.

core is mozilla. android is just gpl3.

from my understanding, this means delta team didn’t read the licenses through, or i missed something big.

Delta Chat core was relicensed to MPL2 back when it was written in C:

This has a nice side effect of being compatible with Thunderbird so code can be exchanged if needed, e.g. in Autocrypt or provider database and autoconfiguration parts.
Major problem with LGPL and GPL is that they are incompatible with iOS store which forbids redistribution of binaries downloaded from the stores.

Overall I like that core is “weak copyleft” licensed, as it means users can create bots that integrate with whatever proprietary programs they may need, and may still contribute fixes if they run into problems in the core. If we forbid it, they will simply use XMPP or Telegram or Slack for such bots and we gain nothing as a result.

Android app is licensed under GPLv3+ because it borrows some code from Signal which is GPLv3+ licensed. I think DC devs can relicense their own files under AGPL and it’s still compatible to GPL, but don’t see much point in mixing licenses like that and introducing all the difficulties of documenting which file parts are licensed under AGPL and which are under GPL. There is little chance someone wants to host the UI code “as a service”.

There is some benefit in licensing the core under AGPL, but given the amount of alternative messaging platforms it will simply drive some users off Delta Chat rather than force them to release their bots as free software.


thanks for the reply!

from what i read, then, it’s all still under the same issue i implied earlier.

first: i’m no lawyer nor enthusiast. i only read on evidences.

agpl is one of the biggest licenses in terms of bytes. and it’s also one of the least used ones precisely because of how impossible it is to release binaries or any kind of software (such as SAAS) without offering the source to the user. from what i understand, that’s all it does, and really nothing more: agpl software and all its derivates have to be deeply open source.

agpl still has an author and it still can be charged.

apparently, no big company use agpl because they want to keep source code closed and prevent the other big competitors to “steal” their innovations… but they can only happen illegally to begin with.

it’s a war on stupidity, honestly. because nothing would exist today in computers without open sourced code.

meanwhile most people run from it because of how big and complex it is. but that complexity is just a t reflex of the legal system. all other licenses can be abused by the big players and offer legal holes for them to keep their core code closed.

what’s more, i don’t think agpl is incompatible with anything claimed above.

here’s an instance of an app that is on the apple app store with an agpl license: GitHub - ONLYOFFICE/documents-app-ios

so, unless i am misreading something, anything other than agpl is actually doing harm by sending the wrong signal of intent for open source.

how many people will follow through, given what delta chat is, shouldn’t matter as much as doing what’s right for the long run.

OnlyOffice requires contributors to sign CLA, as you can see in PRs: Fixed bug #49824 by Xettos · Pull Request #12 · ONLYOFFICE/documents-app-ios · GitHub
This way OnlyOffice owners (“© Ascensio System SIA”) have the right to release the software under different terms for iOS. But even contributors who signed CLA don’t own the whole codebase, so they can’t legally do the same and release their own version of OnlyOffice for iOS.

OnlyOffice devs are essentially using AGPL to prevent competitors from forking the code, because they will not be able to release a version for iOS and will not be able to offer a non-free Enterprise Edition. If something happens to the company developing OnlyOffice now, there will be no more new OnlyOffice versions for iOS.

This is arguably a problem of iOS store, but in practice you have to choose between using permissive licensing for the core like MPL2 or licensing under AGPL and requiring every contributor to sign CLA.

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oof, i still have to learn about cla and dco… and agpl.

i though agpl was built from the ground to allow software to exist regardless of the author, through open sourcing.

from the little i can read on that cla, contributions to the code are just that: contributions that will continue to be licensed as agpl.

and as any agpl, we should be able to take the code and use it at will, with the only constraint that it will have to continue being open and under agpl.

so contributors should be able to legally take the code and release, even sell it.


on trying to find any other iOS app licensed as agpl, i failed. looks like nobody’s else is doing it indeed! and onlyoffice was an unlucky finding on my first guessing.


there’s certainly something i missed on the license!

thanks for helping me look it further.

i shall bring my questioning to a more appropriate place now… :kissing_heart: