[License-discuss] Evolving the License Review process for OSI

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Tue May 28 19:57:01 UTC 2019

>>>>> If government lawyers believe they have a requirement for X and without X they won?t recommend open sourcing then providing them a license that provides X results in more open source code.  This is a good thing as long as X minimally meets the OSD.
>>>> This is where your logic fails, and thank you for summarizing it so 
>>>> well. Also, there is nothing particular about government needs in this 
>>>> statement.  Commercial actors use this exact justification for 
>>>> advancing their ideas of how open source should expand to meet their 
>>>> needs.
>>> Thank you for restating the underlying disagreement on the same false pretense.  Governments are subject to a plethora of different regulations and laws than commercial actors.  To claim or presume there are no requirements unique to Government seems quite fallacious.
> As far as I can recall, there was no response to these inquiries.  Even just to say "this section of the CFR or similar government regulations is why we have to write our license this way.”

Agreed w.r.t. LBNL BSD, that there has not been a citation — though strictly speaking, I believe there was a “response” on efficiency grounds.  This was maybe implying it might not regulatory or that it’s the practical nature of how hard it is for Gov’t to have official public interaction due to regulation or policies, don’t know.  For NOSA, however, a cited response was provided (however still unsatisfying) that it amounted to a legally untested (hence unproven) situation resulting in the aforementioned impasse.  My retort was specifically in response to “there is nothing particular about government needs” which is demonstrably false from an on-the-books perspective and overreaching imho.

> I, for one, find the response "we have to do it this way, we're the government, believe us" unsatisfying, as someone who has spent a lot of time both as a government employee and parsing  through, committing to memory, and teaching people how to understand, at least one fairly dense government procedural manual:  https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/index.html <https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/index.html>
Also agreed.  I’ve worked with the Gov’t for over 20 years and seen my share of “Gov’t must do it this way” for [reasons] which are not actually regulatory but stem, rather, from widespread culture.  However, I also believe OSI on the whole should be doing more to advocate and support Government participation in Open Source.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting Gov’t actors should be offered any sort of leeway with license review.  It should not go unnoticed, though, that U.S. Government is THE single largest producer of source code on the planet.  From a pure numbers game, they should be THE pervasive Open Source participant or at least a major influencer, but they’re not.  

There are folks trying to fix that and when they come here for support, it historically has been a barrier (perhaps by design, re., non-proliferation, or by accident).  Gov’t does not respond well to ad hoc (at all) and that is / was the L-R process.  No review should be in a questionable state (not for years, not for weeks).  There should be consideration when legal minds disagree on an untested point, however obvious it may seem to either party.


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