[License-review] For Approval: NASA Open Source Agreement 2.0

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Mon Jun 24 14:46:31 UTC 2013

"Geurts, Bryan A. (GSFC-1401)" <bryan.a.geurts at nasa.gov> writes:
>Please accept for OSI review and approval the attached NASA Open
>Source Agreement 2.0 (NOSA 2.0) as a replacement for the existing NASA
>Open Source Agreement 1.3.
>NASA proposes that NOSA 2.0 be placed in the license proliferation
>category of SPECIAL PURPOSE LICENSES. It is designed to be used by US
>Government Agencies releasing original software to the public.
>Accordingly, once NOSA 2.0 has been approved, NASA proposes that the
>current NOSA 1.3 be retired (with full government retirement benefits,
>such as they are).
>This new version of the NOSA retains clauses unique to government
>licensing e.g. choice of law, disclaimer of warranties and treatment
>of civil servant contributors, and yet removes some of the more
>unsavory requirements of the earlier version, such as the requirement
>of contributors to warrant that they are the original authors of their
>Please direct any questions about this submittal to me as License
>Steward for the NOSA 2.0 and 1.3. Thank you for your consideration.

Thanks for the submission, Bryan -- as well as the extremely clear
explanation of the new version's purpose & how it differs from the
previous version.

I have a question about the name of the license.  I'm not a lawyer
(others here are, of course) so it might be that there is no cause for
concern, but I thought I'd check:

One of the things that always worried about about the NASA Open Source
Agreement was the word "Agreement" in its name.  "Agreement" might
imply, to some degree, that the license is more of a contract -- albeit
a non-negotiated one, like a web site Terms of Service -- and less of a
copyright license.  If so, could that affect the types of law &
precedent under which it is interpreted?  (And if so, was that a
deliberate goal of the license?)

Again, it may be that merely having the word "Agreement" in the name
does not necessarily tilt things from copyright law to contract law; or
it may be that such tilt would be irrelevant even if present.  I don't
know -- just thought it was worth checking.


>Bryan A. Geurts
>Chief Patent Counsel
>NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
>Code 140.1, 8800 Greenbelt Road
>Greenbelt, MD 20771
>Phone: 301-286-7352
>Fax: 310-286-9502

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