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From "Lawrence Rosen (JIRA)" <j...@apache.org>
Subject [jira] [Commented] (LEGAL-93) Contributions from the US Federal Goverment
Date Thu, 14 Jul 2011 03:48:00 GMT

    [ https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-93?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel&focusedCommentId=13065035#comment-13065035

Lawrence Rosen commented on LEGAL-93:


I'll cite this example, not involving Apache, that I worked on a couple of years ago as a
project for DISA in the Department of Defense. They had software that was written by U.S.
federal government employees called CMIS. They wanted to release this software under an open
source license so that it could benefit from wider adoption and encourage a larger development
community both within the U.S. government and outside. They even wanted to encourage commercial
ventures to take on this software and enhance it for all users.

We could have just taken it. The software was public domain, available if not automatically
then at least under a formal Freedom of Information Act request. But instead, we negotiated
a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), executed between DISA (DOD) and
an outside non-profit open source foundation, the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI). That
CRADA allowed OSSI to take over responsibility for the software; build a forge-like infrastructure
for development purposes; and subsequently distribute the software to the world under the
Open Software License (OSL 3.0). The U.S. government now uses the OSL version of the software
rather than its previous public domain version.

When I mentioned earlier that we work with US government agencies "all the time", that may
have been a slight exaggeration. I was referring to projects such as OODT, which was sponsored
by NASA and conveyed to Apache. I don't know how much of that code was written by contractors
and how much by government employees. That shouldn't be an important distinction, though,
for those of us who want to transform such software into FOSS so that it can be distributed
under recognized and defensible licenses. I also note that NASA has other projects it chooses
to release under its own open source license, the NOSA.  (http://ti.arc.nasa.gov/opensource/).

The National Institute of Standards and Technology worked with the OpenSSL project to create
a government-certified version of the software. That indispensable program remained open source.

When the Department of Homeland Security develops advanced technology nowadays, it is choosing
to do so under an open source regime. (http://www.oss-institute.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=422:host-2-demo&catid=141:dhs-host&Itemid=216)

These may not be so many examples as to justify my saying "all the time", but it is often
enough nowadays to create a trend and to provide models that other U.S. federal government
agencies can follow.


> Contributions from the US Federal Goverment
> -------------------------------------------
>                 Key: LEGAL-93
>                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-93
>             Project: Legal Discuss
>          Issue Type: Question
>            Reporter: Doug Cutting
> Some folks who work for the US federal government want to contribute a codebase to Apache,
through the Incubator.  The US government is not permitted to claim copyright over works it
creates.  The Incubator requires a CCLA or Software Grant for codebases brought to Apache.
 Both of these forms require that the author grant a copyright license to Apache, but I don't
see how this is possible when the author is the US Government, which does not hold copyright.
 What's our process in this case?
> Similarly, how can an employee of the US Federal Government file an ICLA, since that
also requires a grant of copyright license?

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