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

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at
Wed May 4 13:59:17 UTC 2011

On 5/3/11 8:17 PM, "VanL" <van.lindberg at> wrote:

>... or they have purchasing guidelines and omnibus contracts that are
>divorced from the realities on the ground. That never happens with
>government work.

Issues which are not solvable by an open source license strategy.

>> Can you provide examples where trivial modifications of NASA code was
>> resold to the federal government at a large markup?
>> Given that the NSA had released SE-Linux in 2000 and NOSA 1.1 submitted
>> for approval in 2004 I'm curious if you have evidence of this
>Three things. First, SE-Linux is/was a modification of an
>already-existing piece of software, with an already-existing license
>that requires subsequent licensing of derivative works under the GPL.
>WorldWind (and some other projects) were original NASA code. The two
>cases are not comparable

GRASS GIS was released as GPL in the mid 90s after being a public domain
work.  Other examples probably exist. I'm not saying it wasn't the
perception it's just an odd one to have in 2003.

>Second, with reference to examples where the government was resold its
>own code, I don't have those at my fingertips.  I just know Bryan Geurts
>(the author of the NOSA), and I know that this was a perceived problem
>in the 2003 timeframe.
>Third, don't shoot the messenger; I understand the issues with the NOSA.
>Based on the initial ask by Karl, it seemed that there was some context
>that was not being appreciated by those on this list. I have no dog in
>this fight.

Except that those contexts don't appear to me to be meaningful drivers for
an Open Source policy for NASA in 2011.   Acceptance of those drivers
would lead you down, in my opinion, the wrong policy path.

Thanks for the historical perspective but I do have a dog in this
fight...if NASA choose to lock up their open source offerings under GPL or
other copyleft then that would be highly annoying both as a WWJ SDK user
and a taxpayer.

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