FW: [Ossi] DISA to open source administrative software

David Woolley forums at david-woolley.me.uk
Wed Mar 18 07:33:35 UTC 2009

wtfpl user wrote:

> It is interesting to ponder what that might do to FOSS written in
> universities under federal grants and contracts.  But to the best of
> my knowledge, there was no recognition of that problem by any of the
> FOSS people.

My specific point related to your reference to modifications, which 
appeared to be suggesting that modifications to third party code would 
open the third party code.  I believe US public policy is not to trample 
on property rights of third parties, so only the material that would 
otherwise be owned by the state would be public domain.

However, a lot of university FOSS is under BSD style licences, which 
effectively only try to protect moral rights, so much of that software 
is, effectively, already freely usable in proprietary software.  The 
main purpose of BSD licences is to establish a clear licensing status, 
that is valid world wide, and, as I said, to protect moral rights.

In practice US government public domain material still needs to have a 
pseudo copyright owner established, as it is unsafe to use material that 
doesn't have a clear copyright provenance.

Also, I believe that NASA produced an open source licence because their 
public domain status wasn't valid outside the USA.

IANAL, governments and universities shouild be able to afford legal advice.

In terms of the subject, administrative software is not the result of 
scientific research.
David Woolley
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