For Approval: TVA Open Source License
Carroll, James Ritchie
jrcarrol at tva.gov
Sat Sep 12 00:39:48 UTC 2009
Hi Nigel, et. al.,
My apologies, contacting OSI was my idea, not the TVA lawyers. I
asked them to help me choose a suitable open source agreement so that we
could move our source code to the public. I provided them with several
examples from the OSI web site and let them know (from my perspective)
what were the pros and cons; NOSA was an example that set a federal
precedence and they selected this text and modified it to suit TVA's
needs - they were working from a TVA perspective, not from the
perspective of making the existing agreement more abstract for any
After receiving the completed document from the OGC I asked them
if it would be OK for me to post the agreement to OSI such that we might
be able to make this agreement a standard agreement. They had no issues
with this but at the same time I think this task was closed from their
perspective not to mention that I have annoyed them with multiple
questions related to all the comments I received today. This activity is
very "out-of-the-ordinary" for TVA, we are not traditionally known for
producing software. Our lawyers stay busy with inter-company business
agreements and contracts, not open source software agreements. I felt
lucky just to have successfully received an agreement with their
I can truly see where you view this as vanity license; it
essentially is - it was created for TVA - it was me who, perhaps
naively, wanted to make it OSI approved. Using an OSI license was one my
"check-boxes" when I started thinking about open sourcing this software.
A standard agreement is still important to me but it sounds like this
may have to wait unless I can provide a suitable argument to press the
issue since I don't think our OGC wants to revisit this - contract done,
move onto the next one. Not all was a waste - the NOSA provided a
suitable framework for the TVA agreement and it sounds like there can be
valuable improvements made to the NOSA for easier adoption by other
government agencies as well.
Our software delivery date is October 7; unless you have other
suggestions or in the outside chance OSI is willing to accept an
offshoot agreement such as this, I will release the code with the
agreement as-is. Thank you again for your time and efforts concerning
J. Ritchie Carroll
From: Tzeng, Nigel H. [mailto:Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu]
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 6:07 PM
To: Carroll, James Ritchie
Cc: OSI License Review
Subject: Re: For Approval: TVA Open Source License
So...your lawyers believe that you fall under 17 USC 105 but you aren't
REALLY part of the US Government because you're self funded?
That's an interesting position to take and not very compelling for not
using an acceptable NOSA 1.4 should there be one.
In any case, given that NASA is also a government agency, the change
from USG to US Government Agency is probably not going to be a deal
breaker for them although "USG or US Government Agency" would be better
even if it sounds redundant.
Your OGC does believe that the TVA operates as a US federal agency
right? Otherwise y'all should drop that .gov address and go to .org
like MITRE. And heck, they even have a congressional budget line item
as a FFRDC.
Given that NOSA itself is evidently only moderately government wide
friendly (since TVA apparently wont use it), I would put a little more
effort in making any new USG open source license something any
government agency can reuse before suggesting approval. Thus far, I see
little reuse possibilities for the TVA license and it's pretty close to
a vanity license.
Otherwise we may end up with a bunch of <Your Agency Here> Open Source
Agreement submissions all claiming some special regulatory status
requiring their own OSA.
More information about the License-review