Vietnamese Twitter-clone Saigonica violates AGPL


Saigonica is no longer in compliance with AGPL for failing to to provide a Download Link to their modified source code.

There is a new Twitter-clone in Vietnam called Saigonica.  It is based on the open source micro-blogging tool called Laconica, currently one of the most popular Twitter-clones.  It is nice to see the Vietnamese technology community embracing open source software.  Their contribution to the open source community will be very valuable in the upcoming years.  The Vietnamese localization of Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and OpenOffice are some clear examples of their contributions so far.  Their contributions demonstrates a willingness to give back to the open source community and keeping the open source software free.

Unfortunately, Saigonica does not seem willing to give back to the open source community.  According to the Affero General Public License (AGPL), Saigonica must allow users to download the ‘modified’ version of this software.  Furthermore, Saigonica MUST NOT remove the Source link from their Laconica site.  By removing the Source link, Saigonica has  openly violated of the AGPL.

For some people, this may mean nothing to you but to the open source community, it is a big deal.  Saigonica is denying the Authors, Developers and Users of Laconica the freedom to see the modified source code for their own personal gain without contributing back.  If they do not want to share their modified source code with the open source community, then Saigonica should either develop their own micro-blogging tool or purchase a propriety one.

Saigonica even took their name from, the creaters of Laconica, without giving them any credit.

Saigonica will be a good test for open source developers here in Vietnam and around the world.  If successful, I am curious to see how the Laconica community, Free Software Foundation, and most specifically, the Vietnamese Linux Users, such as HanoiLUG, will react to their violation of the AGPL.

Read more about the Affero General License here ->

This link contains a list of sites using Laconica that abide by the AGPL rules ->

Edit 1: Vietnamese language discussion of Saigonica, AGPL violation, etc., here  ->

Edit 2: Saigonica says they are trying to abide by AGPL:

Edit 3: Saigonica is starting to abide by AGPL.

Edit 4: Saigonica is now in compliance with AGPL according to Laconica.

Edit 5: Saigonica is no longer in complaince with AGPL by not providing a link to their modified source code.


  1. I am not familiar with Saigonica. Are they actually distributing software or are they just a website which provides a service? If they aren’t actually distributing the software do they have to give people the source? How similar is the AGPL to the GPL?

  2. One more thing: So far I have had very little success in explaining the value of Free as in Freedom to Vietnamese. And they violate Microsoft’s EULA all over the place. Why should we expect them to honor the GPL or AGPL any more than they honor the Microsoft EULA? As you know, if you try telling them that it is wrong to make copies of Windows you are likely to be laughed at.

  3. AGPL differ from GPL is that it affect software that provide web service too, if they use an AGPL software to provide web service, they must give their user access to the modified source.

    About the IP violation part, I agree that Vietnamese doesn’t respect copyright like we should be, but that doesn’t mean we should just let people violate copyright like this, especially if they are a company. The situation won’t improve itself unless people who is conscious of copyright like us taking action.

  4. @Tracy: Yeah, with AGPL they must provide the ‘modified’ code with a link (button) on their site. Laconica already includes it with their default installation. Saigonica just deleted them.

    I am asking around to see if it is an American venture or Vietnamese. The site is currently hosted on Amazon servers in Seattle.

    @Phuong: Nice to hear from you. I would like to see Vietnamese Linux users take some action on this one if possible. Maybe Saigonica really doesn’t know…

  5. no surprise. iirc, there’s a research from IDG a few years ago stating that some asian countries like VN, China…are the biggest users of open source/free software, and at the same time being the one who contribute the least to the community.

    @Kevin: it’s hard to do anything with Saigonica. FSF or is too far away to file legal action against them. The best thing we can do is to spread the news, and tell people stop using it.


  6. I’m shocked. You mean someone took open source software, copied the idea of a website (which is a copy of another website idea) and then just slapped a cheesy name onto it?

    Kev, as a teacher, I know that you know that we know that you know that copying is like the asian national past time (behind picking your nose and staring).

    In the immortal words of my grandpa: “Lets see dem titties!”


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