Subject: Re: Open Source and Government agencies
From: Frank Hecker <>
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 14:08:25 -0500 wrote:
> I personally believe that all software done under gov't contract should be
> distributed in a way that (a) makes the software free to use for all, (b)
> ensures acknowledgement of the original author(s), and (c) protects those
> authors from liability associated with subsequent use.

Note that some recent government contracts are doing something close to
this. One example is the S/MIME Freeware Library funded by NSA and
developed by JG Van Dyke and Associates; SFL has a license which on a
quick reading looks like it's OSD-compliant and also GPL-compatible:

(I should also note that this software is also more widely available now
with the recent loosening of  US encryption export regulations.)

Some other recent examples of government-funded software being released
under open source licenses include the Certificate Management Library
(also from Van Dyke and funded by NSA), the Certificate Path Development
Library (from Cygnacom, I believe funded by NSA), and the Collaborative
Virtual Workspace (from Mitre, I believe funded by various intelligence

> I do NOT think the government should require GPL or OSD licenses because
> I don't believe that it is sound policy to mandate the economic environment
> of the subsequent use; on this issue the government should be neutral. I
> therefore don't think that proprietary use should be prohibited provided
> that open use is also possible.

I agree with your second point (allowing proprietary use) in the case of
software developed totally under US government contract. However I see
no problem with adopting a government-wide policy of using OSD-compliant
licenses, as long as the licenses are unrestricted enough that they both
allow proprietary use and are also compatible with the GPL, e.g.,
something like the X11 license.

Frank Hecker            work:        home: