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

Karl Fogel kfogel at
Mon May 2 22:02:04 UTC 2011

> Richard Fontana <rfontana at> writes:
> >I note that NASA patents aren't in the public domain, and the NOSA
> >includes a patent license provision.
> I think my question still stands, though: why would a Contributor (as
> defined by the license) necessarily be bound by the patent provisions in
> NOSA, except for those Contributors who have explicitly agreed to NOSA
> as a contract?

Sorry, my question wasn't complex enough:

For situations where NASA itself is the Contributor, then NOSA could be
seen as a mutual detente agreement: you (receiving party) agree to abide
by NOSA, and we (NASA) won't sue you for patent infringement.

For situations where some non-NASA party is the Contributor, I don't see
how it helps at all, though.  And when NASA *is* the party, well... the
spectacle of a government entity suing for patent infringement, in order
to enforce software license terms strictly less permissive than the
public domain, is unappetizing to say the least :-).

IOW, it's bad enough if NOSA is only based on contract law.  But if it's
based on contract law *and* patent law, whereby NASA has to be the
enforcing party for even the latter, my initial reaction is we're in a
situation where the cure is worse than the disease.

It's not clear to me how any of this is better than just using the
public domain.  Even if it *is* better than that, NASA still has the
option of reserving NOSA for software written entirely in-house, and
using a standard OSS license for software written with contractors.


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