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

Richard Fontana rfontana at
Mon May 2 21:49:36 UTC 2011

On Mon, May 02, 2011 at 04:03:16PM -0500, Karl Fogel wrote:
> VanL <van.lindberg at> writes:

> >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
> >public.
> >
> >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.
> Thanks for the history lesson.
> Hmm, so how does NOSA get enforced on someone who didn't "agree" to it?
> That is, if the code itself is in the public domain, and I get a copy of
> it, then how are NOSA's terms binding on me?

I note that NASA patents aren't in the public domain, and the NOSA
includes a patent license provision.

- RF

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