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

VanL van.lindberg at
Mon May 2 20:23:56 UTC 2011

On 5/1/2011 8:37 PM, Karl Fogel wrote:
> 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.

Pardon the history lesson, but I am do not understand how traditional 
licenses would address the original NOSA use case - specifically, 
providing a non-copyright basis for keeping government-written code in 

With reference to source code written by government contractors, 
traditional copyright (and thus traditional licenses) apply. For purely 
government-written code, however, copyright doesn't apply; it is public 
domain by statute.

The NOSA was designed to emulate the behavior of common open source 
licenses by declaring the government as an intended third party 
beneficiaries to future developments of the code, in theory giving them 
the right to pursue legal action to keep the code open. It performs this 
under contract law principles, though, not copyright principles.



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