NASA requests help finding gov't use of standard OSS licenses.

Karl Fogel kfogel at
Mon May 2 01:37:17 UTC 2011

(This was "Re: NASA Open Source Agreement v1.3".  I've retitled the
thread to call attention to the request for help from NASA.)

Scott Goodwin, CIO of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate, is
looking for examples of federal agencies releasing open source software
under standard OSS licenses -- like BSD, Apache, GNU GPL, etc.

Part of the purpose is to evaluate the future of NASA's custom open
source license, the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) [1].  As you can
see from Scott's message below [2], one possibility is that existing OSS
licenses could serve all of NASA's purposes, and that NOSA would no
longer be necessary.  However, that case is best made through the
experience other agencies have had releasing software under standard
licenses.  Goodwin also requests pointers other agency-specific licenses
(similar to NOSA), to investigate how those have worked out.

This is a really important discovery effort.  If you'd like to help, you
can either follow up here with examples -- I will collate them and merge
duplicates before adding them to Scott's list -- or you can send your
example to Scott directly.


[1] Note that version 1.3 of NOSA is considered an open source license
    (, albeit a non-standard one.

[2] Scott Goodwin's message:
    > I'm building the case for releasing NASA software under appropriate
    > mainstream OSS licenses such as BSD, MIT, Apache 2.0, GPL and a few
    > others. At NASA we have the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) as the
    > default license for software we release to the public, and though our
    > official NASA Software Release Policy allows use of other mainstream
    > OSS licenses, NASA very rarely allows such releases. Many times the
    > released software is part of a larger community or larger software
    > project that is already under one or more mainstream licenses. If, for
    > example, NASA develops an Apache Web Server module, it seems to make
    > more sense to release it under the Apache license versus the NOSA
    > license. Also, because the NOSA license will never be a mainstream OSS
    > license, it deters use and acceptance of our software -- the Fedora
    > project, for example, has banned all NOSA software from being
    > incorporated or distributed with Fedora releases. What if every
    > government Agency had its own separate open source license under which
    > it released software that it developed instead of using the existing
    > mainstream licenses?
    > What I am specifically asking is for information on:
    > 1. Examples of software released by other Federal, State and Local
    > government or the Military that were released under one or more of the
    > mainstream open source licenses. I know the White House recently
    > released their IT Dashboard software under the GPL, for example.
    > 2. Open Source licenses created by any other Agencies, government
    > organizations that those organizations use to release software. What
    > other agencies have their own open source license in the way that NASA
    > has its NOSA license?
    > Pointers to actual license documents, software web sites and other
    > substantiating information is most helpful. You can reply directly to
    > me if you prefer: scott.goodwin at
    > I'm keeping the spreadsheet of software packages identified here, so
    > please check first before sending in a new one:
    > You can find NASA's software release policy here:
    > Thanks!
    > /s.
    > Scott Goodwin
    > Chief Information Officer
    > Space Operations Mission Directorate
    > National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    > Washington, DC

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