[License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: NOSA 2.0, Copyfraud and the US Government

Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL (US) cem.f.karan.civ at mail.mil
Thu Aug 31 18:47:57 UTC 2017

We're doing something very close to, but not quite the same as what DDS is 
suggesting; we're stating that if a work (or portion of a work) does not have 
copyright attached within the US, then that work (or portion of a work) is 
licensed world-wide under CC0.  All other works are licensed under an 
OSI-approved license of some type.  To get a better sense of what I'm talking 
about, clone 
and checkout the 'develop' branch.  The reason for doing it this way is to 
ensure that the license for a chunk of code remains the same regardless of 
where it is in the world; without that guarantee, users would have to know 
where they are to know if they are in compliance or not (under the DDS scheme, 
flying from the lower 48 states through Canada to Alaska would mean that code 
could go from being public domain, to copyrighted, to public domain 

All that said, your second point is EXACTLY the kind of issues I'm worried 
about.  JOSS (http://joss.theoj.org/) is one journal that will only accept 
code under OSI-approved licenses.  There may be others as well, but I haven't 
done my homework on that.

In addition, there are projects (like Debian) that will only accept software 
that is Open Source.  In the case of Debian, I think that CC0 + a patent 
waiver would be sufficient (I haven't pushed this on the Debian lists, and I 
can't speak for the Debian project, it is just my personal belief that it 
would be OK), but I suspect that there are other projects where this isn't 
possible, and your code has to be under an OSI-approved license to be 

Making CC0 + a patent release officially OSI-approved would solve a lot of 
problems.  If you want an example of what ARL is doing, clone 
checkout the 'develop' branch, and look at LICENSE.txt.  It is an example of 
where ARL is trying to go (note that the develop branch is not yet official 
policy, and won't be until and unless it goes through ARL's official channels, 
so take it as a possible direction we're going in).  I've combined CC0 and 
Apache 2.0, explained which portions of the code are under which license, and 
I've included the patent clause from the Apache license as a new clause 
overriding the CC0 patent clause.  That might be sufficient for OSI as well.

Cem Karan

PS, I'm actively (as in whenever I'm not typing out emails today) working on 
the develop branch, so depending on what time you clone it, you might see 
different stuff up there.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: License-discuss [mailto:license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org] On 
> Behalf Of Marc Jones
> Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2017 2:05 PM
> To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: [License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: NOSA 2.0, Copyfraud and 
> the US Government
> Cem,
> Has your organization considered using the approach that the Defense Digital 
> Service is taking. It seems like their use of a INTENT file that
> clearly calls out the fact that the code written by federal employees as not 
> being subject to copyright would address the "copyfraud"
> concern.
> > Licensing Intent
> >
> > The intent is that this software and documentation ("Project") should be 
> > treated as if it is licensed under the license associated with the
> Project ("License") in the LICENSE.md file. However, because we are part of 
> the United States (U.S.) Federal Government, it is not that
> simple.
> >
> > The portions of this Project written by United States (U.S.) Federal 
> > government employees within the scope of their federal employment
> are ineligible for copyright protection in the U.S.; this is generally 
> understood to mean that these portions of the Project are placed in the
> public domain.
> >
> > In countries where copyright protection is available (which does not 
> > include the U.S.), contributions made by U.S. Federal government
> employees are released under the License. Merged contributions from private 
> contributors are released under the License.
> Caution-https://github.com/deptofdefense/code.mil/blob/master/Proposal/INTENT.md 
> < Caution-
> https://github.com/deptofdefense/code.mil/blob/master/Proposal/INTENT.md >
> In regards to the second issue, if I recall your organization has expressed 
> pretty strongly that they prefer to have a license approved by OSI
> before regarding it as "open source." I do not mean to rehash the argument 
> that OSI does not have any right to control the use of the
> phrase "open source." So I will leave that aside.
> But to take your concern seriously I did recently encounter a situation 
> where a client's funding was dependent on releasing the software
> under a "open source license as defined by the Open Source Initiative or as 
> Free Software as defined by the Free Software Foundation."
> Perhaps if your organization is facing a similar situation and they are 
> looking for a external arbitrator of what counts as FOSS, they should
> consider looking at other lists of FOSS licenses. Creative Commons  is 
> listed as a "free software" license by the Free Software Foundation.
> So in that situation if they wanted to use CCO I would probably argue 1) you 
> can use public domain software in a "Open source" licensed
> under a OSI approved license, as DDS is asserting. And 2) CC0 is considered 
> "free software" by FSF.  (Caution-
> https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#CC0 < 
> Caution-https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#CC0 > )
> Not sure if reframing the issue in those terms is an option for your 
> organization.
> -Marc
> On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 4:45 PM Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL (US) 
> <cem.f.karan.civ at mail.mil < Caution-
> mailto:cem.f.karan.civ at mail.mil > > wrote:
> 	> -----Original Message-----
> 	> From: License-discuss 
> [Caution-mailto:license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org < 
> Caution-mailto:license-discuss-
> bounces at opensource.org > ] On
> 	> Behalf Of Tzeng, Nigel H.
> 	> Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 2:32 PM
> 	> To: license-discuss at opensource.org < 
> Caution-mailto:license-discuss at opensource.org >
> 	> Subject: Re: [License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: NOSA 2.0, Copyfraud 
> and
> 	> the US Government
> 	>
> 	> CC has to submit CC0 according to tradition/rules. For them to bother, 
> since
> 	> they won't amend CC0 itself, probably there needs to be
> 	> some assurance it will at least get a vote at the next board meeting, if 
> not
> 	> assurance it would pass.
> 	>
> 	> Neither seems likely.
> 	>
> 	> Easier to just to shrug their shoulders and ignore the whole OSI approval
> 	> thing.
> 	Well, that's a pain.  In that case, unless NOSA 2.0 gets approved, I 
> suspect
> 	that at least some Government code is going to be zombie code, partly Open
> 	Source and partly CC0.
> 	Thanks,
> 	Cem Karan
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