CSI open source's the TriSano public health application under AGPLv3

If you want wide distribution, use Apache, but if you want to keep a project like Trisano together, the GPL is probably your best bet.

The GNU General Public License (GPL), unlike Apache-style licensing, offers perhaps the best way to prevent a community from forking. It's therefore not surprising to see the Collaborative Software Initiative turning to the Affero GPL Version 3 to help foster and protect its budding TriSano community .

Eben Moglen, director of the Software Freedom Law Center and co-author of the AGPLv3, agrees:

By offering the code under the widely used AGPLv3 license, Collaborative Software Initiative gives the user community the assurance of knowing that the code can be modified, customized, and shared in a low-friction way to suit their very specific project requirements. AGPLv3 was written as a roadmap to foster the most open, transparent and collaborative open source and free software communities possible.

"Open" is in the eyes of the beholder--there is a longstanding debate between the GPL and BSD/Apache communities as to which is more open--but there's little debate that GPL offers a more robust way to provide incentives against forking a project. TriSano will be better for having all participants rowing in the same direction. AGPLv3 gives them this.

One question, though: why AGPLv3 instead of simply GPLv3? Is there an element of Web-based distribution here against which CSI is hoping to guard?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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