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

David Woolley forums at
Wed May 4 07:43:21 UTC 2011

VanL wrote:

> Without having researched this issue in depth, my off-the-cuff answer 
> would be that it functions as a unilateral contract: NASA makes the 
> offer for you to use the code under certain conditions (the NOSA), and 
> you signal your acceptance of the terms by using the code. No 
> click-through required.

As I understand it, use is not a controlled right under US copyright 
law, so use couldn't constitute acceptance.  This is use in the limited 
sense of running the software; making derivatives would be acceptance.

However, the real problem is that they would simply accept the implied 
offer from the government to have the software on public domain terms, 
and ignore your offer.

I think you would need explicit acceptance of the contract before supply.

You also haven't mentioned the third requirement for a contract, which 
is "consideration".  Either they have to give you something in return, 
or (English law - may differ in the USA) you have to sign and seal the 
contract as a deed.

> This is a big deal for a lot of people in the government. I know another 
> program that donates 95% finished code to a university under a 
> public/private partnership so that the university can hold copyright and 
> thus open source the code.
Is the public domain thing a constitutional thing, or just a statute law 
thing?  I think the only real solution is to change the law on US 
government IPR.

Once you establish copyright, which is needed for copyleft to work, be 
aware that the big problem with new copyleft licences is that they tend 
to be incompatible with other copyleft licences.

David Woolley
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