[License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: Possible alternative was: Re: U.S. Army Research Laboratory Open Source License (ARL OSL) Version 0.4.1

Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL (US) cem.f.karan.civ at mail.mil
Wed Mar 1 15:45:06 UTC 2017

Two reasons.  First is for the disclaimer of liability and warranty.  We can 
write our own notice, but that would be much less recognizable than CC0, which 
is why we'd prefer to use it.

Second, it solves the question of copyright in foreign jurisdictions; as far 
as is possible, the work is in the public domain everywhere, which means that 
someone in (for example) Canada can treat it the same way as someone in the US 
would.   If you're wondering how this could be a problem, the issue is that 
copyright is a grant by the State at the time of creation, but each State has 
different rules about this.  As an example, works that I create as a civil 
servant do not have copyright within the US, but may have copyright 
protections in Canada unless specifically disclaimed.  This could lead to 
questions about whether or not the code could be merged into a project if the 
project is being used world-wide, because the license for the US Government 
furnished code is unclear.  CC0 settles the question as far as possible across 
all jurisdictions, and as long as all external contributions are under the 
chosen OSI-approved license, all material in a project will be covered by one 
or the other, and decisions can be made by the courts in any jurisdiction on 
the project as a whole.

Note that I am not a lawyer, and none of this should be construed as legal 

Cem Karan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: License-discuss [mailto:license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org] On 
> Behalf Of Richard Fontana
> Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2017 9:37 AM
> To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [License-discuss] Possible alternative was: 
> Re: U.S. Army Research Laboratory Open Source License (ARL
> OSL) Version 0.4.1
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> ----
> I really like the approach as it currently exists. But why is use of
> CC0 necessary? If some work of the US government is in the public domain by 
> virtue of the Copyright Act, there is no need to use CC0.
> Indeed, I would think use of CC0 by the Government is just as problematic, 
> or non-problematic, as the use of any open source license, such
> as the Apache License 2.0. Strictly speaking, the use of
> CC0 assumes that you have copyright ownership.
> Only noting this because the fact that OSI has not approved CC0 makes this 
> more complicated than the case where CC0 is not used at all.
> The code.mil folks discussed an earlier version of this approach with the 
> OSI. But this is the first I've heard of using CC0.
> Richard
> On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 04:23:12PM +0000, Karan, Cem F CIV USARMY RDECOM ARL 
> (US) wrote:
> > All, the folks at code.mil came up with what may be a really, really
> > good idea; see
> > Caution-https://github.com/deptofdefense/code.mil/blob/master/Proposal/CONTRIBUTING.md.
> >
> > The basic idea is simple; when the Government releases code, it's in
> > the public domain (likely CC0).  The project owners select an
> > OSI-approved license, and will only accept contributions to the
> > project under their chosen license[1].  Over time the code base
> > becomes a mixture, some of which is under CC0, and some of which is
> > under the OSI-approved license.  I've talked with ARL's lawyers, and
> > they are satisfied with this solution.  Would OSI be happy with this
> > solution?  That is, would OSI recognize the projects as being truly
> > Open Source, right from the start?  The caveat is that some projects
> > will be 100% CC0 at the start, and can only use the chosen Open Source
> > license on those contributions that have copyright attached.  Note
> > that Government projects that wish to make this claim would have to
> > choose their license and announce it on the project site so that
> > everyone knows what they are licensing their contributions under, which is 
> > the way that OSI can validate that the project is keeping its
> end of the bargain at the start.
> >
> > If this will satisfy OSI, then I will gladly withdraw the ARL OSL from
> > consideration.  If there are NASA or other Government folks on here,
> > would this solution satisfy your needs as well?
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Cem Karan
> >
> > [1] There is also a form certifying that the contributor has the right
> > to do so, etc.  The Army Research Laboratory's is at
> > Caution-https://github.com/USArmyResearchLab/ARL-Open-Source-Guidance-
> > and-Instructions/blob/master/ARL%20Form%20-%20266.pdf,
> > and is, unfortunately, only able to be opened in Adobe Acrobat.  We're
> > working to fix that, but there are other requirements that will take some 
> > time.
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> > discuss
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