Subject: Re: Open Source and Government agencies
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 11:33:01 -0800

Thanks for all the thoughts, which I'll pass along.  (Also, does anyone
have a problem with me posting your various responses on our web site? 
The question came in to "Ask Tim" and since you guys have all made so
much more of this than I would have, I'd rather just quote you all than
try to digest what you said...).

Meanwhile, William Asquith has a followup question, based on my first

> What happens to GPL (and other OS licenses) if a government employee
> patches or contributes to an OS project?  Is the new patch or contribution
> UN-Licensable?, thus potentially only portions of the project are under
> GPL.  I am sure that you can see how the issue can continue to get more
> complex than this.

That is, given that government software is PD, does a government
contribution to a GPL'd project inherit the PD aspects of the government
work, or the GPL'd quality of the project to which it is contributed? 
This seems like the kind of stuff that entertains lawyers, but that the
rest of us prefer not to think about.  I'd guess that regardless of the
legal details and what would happen in the event of a lawsuit, the
licensing for the project to which the code was contributed would
effectively apply.

But maybe those of you who've done more work on the ins and outs of
code-mixing in GPL'd projects would have further comment.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104,