[License-review] License Committee Report - for board meeting of 2013-11-06 [NASA, EUPL, and Tidepool]

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Mon Jun 30 16:00:34 UTC 2014

On 6/30/14, 10:15 AM, "Richard Fontana" <fontana at sharpeleven.org> wrote:

>On Thu, 26 Jun 2014 08:10:36 -0400
>"Tzeng, Nigel H." <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu> wrote:
>> Or simply to ignore it since your corner case is highly unlikely to
>> ever occur in the real world.  The number of non-NASA contributors to
>> a NOSA project that is not another government agency or contractor
>> for a governmental agency approaches zero.
>I don't believe OSI should approve/disapprove licenses based on
>assumptions about which particular (few) entities are likely to use the

Special purpose licenses are by definition special and often (if not
always) takes into consideration what entities will use such a license.

NOSA and ECL v2.0 are two such licenses.  The other two are font licenses.

>> In any case, which open source requirement is violated even if the
>> existing wording is unchanged?  A question you've sidestepped twice.
>You mean OSD planks? I can come up with arguments for why the provision
>as it exists could in practice be used to discriminate against fields of
>endeavor, but the problem mainly lies outside the OSD.

Then do so.  It strikes me as a significant stretch to claim a
non-endorement clause restricts field of endeavor in any way.

>I'm no arch-anti-proliferationist but this license clearly implicates the
>policy against license proliferation, so it has to be scrutinized
>closely for that reason.

Given that it¹s an update to an existing license that will then be
deprecated I see no proliferation issues.  Employing ³non-proliferation²
as a rationale for disapproval seems like another significant stretch.

> We should not be quick to approve new licenses
>that seem to have problematically-drafted provisions even if the
>problems are not mentioned in the OSD (e.g., excessive vagueness,
>problems of comprehensibility, inconsistency across provisions).

As I saidŠrequest that NASA add "without specific prior written
permission.² or similar text to end of the paragraph.

That would match the BSD language on the same issue.  However claiming
that it ³isn¹t open source² though vague handwaving is not particularly

>What bothers me particularly here is that Bryan says that this
>provision is *required* to be in this license by virtue of the NASA
>enabling statute. That is a really strong statement -- I understand it
>as a contention that NASA would somehow be violating its own statutory
>mandate if this provision weren't in the license. I don't know if that
>argument was made back when the original version of NOSA was approved.
>As some indication that this is dubious I point to the following
>(clearly non-FOSS) NASA license, which contains no such provision:

That other licenses may not comply with current NASA regulations/federal
statues is not particularly strong evidence that there isn't a requirement
to have a non-endorsement clause in any current NASA software license
text.  Now that you brought it to Bryan's attention don¹t be overly
surprised if the NASA CDF copyright notice changes.  I¹m sure that the
Space Physics Data Facility and the NASA CDF community will be grateful to
you for whatever annoyance that will cause.

What bothers me particularly here is that your attitude is unnecessarily
confrontational and you seem to be insinuating that Bryan is being somehow
disingenous in asserting that such a requirement exists.

Given that an overly restrictive non-endorsement clause does NASA no
benefit it strikes me as highly unlikely.  The addition of "without
specific prior written permission² would mitigate any minor concerns on
this matter.

NASA CDF is clearly non-FOSS?  Non-FOSS by the letter of the definition
but not the spirit given that any derivative work may be under any license
(FOSS or not). I have less concern with using any NASA CDF code than I do
with GPL code.  It is, essentially, a slightly weird BSD license.

>- RF

Nigel (speaking only for myself)

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