For Approval: TVA Open Source License

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at
Fri Sep 11 18:30:44 UTC 2009

As a user of NOSA for several years, not once has NASA ever said or implied that combining other open source works with NOSA licensed software would be a problem.  For users of NOSA licensed open source there is no controversy.

In fact the DOE partially sponsors (via NNSA) a project under NOSA that is widely used in many applications that combine 3rd party open source code: NASA WorldWind.

I'm curious about this change in 3.B:  "No copyright is claimed pursuant to 17 USC § 105.  All Other Rights Reserved."  You need to ask your OGC the implications for any contractors working under your proposed license under FAR.  Look at FAR Subpart 27.4 and 52.227-14 and others.  I'm more familiar with DFARS than FAR but that change has potentially significant contract negotiation issues that would make the license a lot less useful to the general government user.

I recommend you talk to the NASA folks to get a new rev of NOSA.  The current one is 1.3 so it's not like they've never changed it.  If the only sticking point is section G then they might do a 1.4.  Until NASA explicitly says "NO" I would recommend that it not be approved from a proliferation standpoint.

v1.3 POC

Robert Padilla
Chief Patent Counsel
NASA-Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA  94035-1000
(650) 604-5104 Phone
(650) 604-2767 Facsimile

v1.1 POC

Bryan A. Geurts
Patent Attorney
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 503.0
8800 Greenbelt Road
Greenbelt, MD 20771
(301) 286-7886

On 9/11/09 11:42 AM, "Carroll, James Ritchie" <jrcarrol at> wrote:


        My name is James Ritchie Carroll; I work for the Tennessee
Valley Authority in Chattanooga, Tennessee as the manager of Operations
Architecture handling system development related to field device data
acquisition. The TVA is a federally owned corporation in the United
States created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide
navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer
manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley.
Currently TVA is the nation's largest public power company, providing
electric power to nearly 8.5 million customers in the Tennessee Valley.

My group has been developing software related to the smart-grid for
several years (see:
a%20Concentrator.png,,, and we
have now decided to provide this software as open source. It is our hope
that this code will be used to support the development of the smart grid
and facilitate the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to accelerate use of
synchrophasors in the U.S. as part of the federal economic stimulus
programs. We believe this code will be an enabling technology for both
vendors and the electric power system industry worldwide and especially
within the U.S. as billions are invested to modernize the power grid
over the next several years.

Given that we are a government agency about the only license agreement
that is suitable for us to use is the NASA Open Source Agreement;
however in the open source community this license has concerns related
to section G: "Each Contributor represents that its Modification is
believed to be Contributor's original creation and does not..." We also
have an issue with this clause given that we use some existing open
source code in our project. As a result we have worked with our Office
of General Council (OGC) and they have developed a new agreement based
on the NOSA that removes this wording.

The new agreement is basically a minor modification of the NOSA
developed and reviewed by TVA OGC lawyers - however, it is different
enough that they have labeled it the "TVA Open Source Agreement". I have
a change-tracking-enabled Word version of this document that clearly
shows the differences from the NOSA if that is useful (see links below).
Given that we are very separate from NASA as a government agency means
that making modifications to the existing agreement is out of the
question; NASA will have no impetus to change an existing in-use
agreement to suit TVA especially since any other government agency can
use the agreement as-is already. Additionally, the OSI may feel that
this agreement is duplicative in nature; however, we feel that the new
agreement helps to solve the aforementioned long-standing issue with the
NOSA concerning original contributions that are not the contributor's
original creation (you are likely aware of the concerns in the open
source community about this: Ultimately I
will have little choice in the matter; the agreement for our source code
release has to approved by TVA OGC. As a result I would like to
officially submit this new license agreement for review by the OSI. It
is my hope that this agreement, or some form of it, can become a more
widely accepted agreement that can be used by government agencies.

We will be releasing the source code under the new agreement on October
7th, 2009 as a new open source project called the "TVA open Phasor Data
Concentrator" (openPDC) on the following site: If you would like access to this site
while it is in pre-release mode, please create an account on codeplex
and provide me your username; I will promptly add you to the site so you
can review. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions. I
will act as the proxy to the TVA OGC legal staff should you have any
questions related to the agreement.

License agreement downloads:

*       Word version:
*       Word version with tracking from NOSA:
*       Plain-text version:

Submission Type:        For Approval
License Name:           TVA Open Source Agreement
License Category:       Special Purpose Licenses

James Ritchie Carroll

E-mail: jrcarrol at
Work:   (423) 751-4165
Cell:   (931) 308-2240

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