[License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: US Army Research Laboratory Open Source License proposal

Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL (US) cem.f.karan.civ at mail.mil
Mon Jul 25 17:15:20 UTC 2016

> -----Original Message-----
> From: License-discuss [mailto:license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org] On 
> Behalf Of Gervase Markham
> Sent: Monday, July 25, 2016 12:49 PM
> To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: [License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: US Army Research 
> Laboratory Open Source License proposal
> On 25/07/16 17:33, Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL (US) wrote:
> > OK, I see where you're coming from, I'm just not comfortable with it.
> > I'm much more comfortable with a single license that covers
> > everything.  I also know that our lawyers would be more comfortable
> > with a single document that covered everything.  But I do see your point!
> Why can't the Apache license be that document?
> USG isn't going to try and enforce the copyright-related provisions in the 
> Apache License against anyone - because it has no standing. But
> the disclaimer would still stand, under the principle that a legal document 
> is reformed just to the extent to make it valid.
> What would happen that was bad, if you just released the software and said 
> "This is under the Apache license"? What's the scenario you
> are worried about?

The concern is that BECAUSE the USG doesn't have copyright protection, others 
could argue that the entire license is invalid as it is all based on 
copyright, and there isn't any concept of severability in the original Apache 
2.0 license.  That opens up liability, etc. as problems.  By making a license 
that relies on copyright where available, and contract law where it isn't, 
we're making something that (we hope) will stand up in court when we have to 
defend it.

> Having made that point, I think you need to understand the significant deal 
> that it is to try and get a new open source licence approved. If
> all that's up against is "Our lawyers would prefer one document rather than 
> two" (and hey, you can put the statements in the same file)
> then it could be that this is not seen as sufficient justification for 
> approving a new licence as open source.

I understand how much effort it can be; I've heard about some of the problems 
that NOSA 2.0 has been facing.  Believe me, if I thought that there was a 
better way that would be acceptable to the USG, I would prefer to do it! 
However, as I understand it, there isn't another way.  That said, every time 
you come up with a point that sounds good, I've been running down to the ARL 
Legal office to see what they think of it; I'll do the same with your comments 
this time, but the lawyer I'm working with here at ARL is currently not in his 
office.  I'm going to try to talk him into joining the mailing list, as he can 
explain what the major problems are better than I can.  Since I'm not a 
lawyer, I may be getting some of the points wrong.

Cem Karan

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