[License-discuss] Resources to discourage governments from bespoke licenses?

Nigel T nigel.2048 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 28 11:20:45 UTC 2020

The only recent one I’m aware of is the ESA license and that was several months ago.

The concerns of GOSS isn’t random or capricious and they are a special case, at least within the US, given that source written by government employees are public domain in the US and not elsewhere.  

Also the commercial rights under often contractually shared with the authors to promote dual use/tech transfer. The primary concern is that the government isn’t charged twice for the same code.

Finally, and this is a point that is hard to get folks to agree with even within GOSS, the USG is so large that patent clauses have to written carefully so that one arm of the government doesn’t inadvertently give away a patent created by another part of the government and already licensed to another party. 

ECL v2 is a much safer license for GOSS projects to use than Apache.  CC0 is also safe but suboptimal since it contains no patent grant.  Ideally we would have a license like CC0 with the explicit patent grant from ECL V2, perhaps broadened to not just the authors but the agency they belong to (ie NASA, DOE, US Army, etc).

Several of my last posts never made the list so I suspect neither will this one.  It would be nice to get a short note if moderated, not that I thought I had violated any rules.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Feb 27, 2020, at 8:32 PM, Michael Downey <michael at downey.net> wrote:
> And now for something completely different...
> While it's not nearly as common as it was for a while, now and then we get some government  and inter-governmental clients who want to roll their own license because they think they are a special case of indemnity or privilege requirements, things along those lines. But typically when we hear those remarks, it's not coming from legal folks with FLOSS experience but instead just default thinking that the most protective stance is to create something bespoke.
> Can anyone on the list recommend any good reading materials, essays, talks, or presentations on why we should discourage bespoke licenses, especially for governments and similar agencies?
> Thanks in advance for any memories or bookmarks folks can dust off --
> Michael Downey
> United Nations Foundation
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