Subject: Re: Open Source and Government agencies
From: Rich Morin <>
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 20:51:23 -0800

At 5:41 PM -0800 2/27/00, Robert A. Bruce wrote:
>>The thing that really sets my teeth on edge,
>>however, is the removal of SW from the free community...
>Do you have an example of this happening?  Is it even possible?
>If source code is released under, say, the GPL, can the author
>later un-GPL it?

Well, the author is free to issue a new release with different
terms, but that isn't an issue for me.

I recall a couple of instances where authors asked me to stop
putting their code (even old versions) on my PTF distributions,
but I can't recall the specifics and I'm not sure it would do
much good to drag them into the discussion, in any case.  So,
I'll back up on this remark, since I can't support it.

Instead, let's look at a couple of other cases:

   COSMIC - This is an agency that is chartered to distribute
   SW from NASA.  The last time I checked, they did so, but in
   a very inefficient manner, writing individual tapes for each
   package ordered and charging an substantial fee for each one.
   When I talked to them about putting everything on a single
   piece of media, they asked me how they could support their
   staff on that basis.  I didn't have a (printable) answer...

   FWIW, our (ancient) AI collection still sells a few copies
   each month, because of folks who want a copy of CLIPS, an
   expert system shell that COSMIC is chartered to distribute.

   Macsyma - IIRC, this package was developed largely with US
   Government funds.  Nonetheless, it has been kept out of the
   PD by assorted "contractual" gambits.  I haven't done much
   looking into these sorts of issues (there have always been
   plenty of hassle-free packages to keep me busy :-), but I
   strongly suspect that this isn't the only case where SW was
   developed using government funds, then kept proprietary.

Rich Morin:, +1 650-873-7841,
Prime Time Freeware:, +1 408-433-9662,