[License-discuss] US Army Research Laboratory Open Source License proposal

Maarten Zeinstra mz at kl.nl
Sun Jul 24 11:48:31 UTC 2016


Yes I am suggesting that if the country of origin of the work does not assign copyright to the work then no copyright is assigned world-wide. My reasoning is that there is no entity to assign that copyright to. 

An example in a different field might support my argument.

In the Netherlands we automatically assign (not transfer, which is important here) any IP rights of the employee to the employer if works are created within the duties of the employee. That means that the employer is the rights holder. This rights holder is consequently also recognised as the rights holder in other jurisdictions. Who might, given a similar situation in their own jurisdiction, normally assign the right to the employee. 

Now if there is no rights holder to begin with (the U.S. waives it rights on government produced works as I understand, the Netherlands government does the same), then no foreign rights can be assigned as well. Hence the work must be in the public domain world wide.

I have more experience with Creative Commons-licenses than with Open Source license, but in CC licenses the license exists for the duration of the right. I assume all Open Source licenses are basically the same in this regard. In that sense it does not matter which license is applied as the license is immediately void, since there is no underlying right to license.

Finally, in the past I have advised the dutch government to adopt CC0 to make the public domain status of their works clear. They have adopted this since ~2011 on their main site: https://www.government.nl/copyright <https://www.government.nl/copyright> (english version). I advise the US army does something similar as well.


Maarten Zeinstra

Kennisland | www.kl.nl <http://www.kl.nl/> | t +31205756720 | m +31643053919 | @mzeinstra

> On 24 Jul 2016, at 08:26, Philippe Ombredanne <pombredanne at nexb.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at rosenlaw.com> wrote:
>> It is true that this public domain result doesn't apply outside the U.S. But
>> if you apply a valid open source license to it – such as Apache 2.0 – that
>> should be good enough for everyone who doesn't live in the U.S. and
>> irrelevant for us here.
> Larry, are you suggesting that Cem considers using  some statement more
> or less like this, rather than a new license?
>    This U.S. Federal Government work is not copyrighted and dedicated
>    to the public domain in the USA. Alternatively, the Apache-2.0
> license applies
>    outside of the USA ?
> On Sat, Jul 23, 2016 at 9:51 AM, Maarten Zeinstra <mz at kl.nl> wrote:
>> Is that the correct interpretation of the Berne convention? The convention
>> assigns copyright to foreigners of a signatory state with at least as strong
>> protection as own nationals. Since US government does not attract copyright
>> I am unsure if they can attract copyright in other jurisdictions.
> Maarten, are you suggesting then that the lack of copyright for a U.S. Federal
> Government work would just then apply elsewhere too and that using an
> alternative Apache license would not even be needed?
> -- 
> Cordially
> Philippe Ombredanne
> +1 650 799 0949 | pombredanne at nexB.com
> DejaCode : What's in your code?! at http://www.dejacode.com
> nexB Inc. at http://www.nexb.com
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