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[Discuss] Govt Source Code Policy

Rich Pieri <richard.pieri at> writes:

> On 4/7/2016 12:27 PM, Mike Small wrote:
>> Ah, then I agree with you that that seems like overreach unless and
>> until someone demonstrates rms's arguments are good enough to inform
>> general law.
> I have evidence that I believe strongly demonstrates that RMS's
> arguments should not be used to inform general law.

Interesting. I don't think it shows that but it does appear to be an
example of a government agency asserting copyright. And now I'm mixed up
again cause I thought they couldn't do that.

I don't think it shows what you say unless the argument is that these
OASCR people are bright as hell and they don't even mention rms's
arguments so therefore said arguments must be crap. Looking at the
benefits listed in the background it fits neatly into rms's usual
framing of the difference between the free software movement and open
source people in that it's a list of practical benefits to the OASCR,
with one practical benefit to the public at large, but makes no
reference to the rights a recipient of the software ought to have, rms's
bread and butter.

> The DoE added a rider on educational grants in 2008 (I believe). If
> released to the public, software funded by DoE educational grant money
> must be published with an Open Source Software (OSS) license or have
> copyright transferred to the DoE for publication:
> The DoE more recently have demonstrated a preference for CC BY because,
> "requiring release under CC BY maximizes the public benefit of funding
> dollars, and ensures the creator retains copyright and the option to
> offer the work under other terms that benefit the particular business
> model or mission"

This is puzzling. First in its specificity: there are other software
licenses that seem to more or less accomplish what CC BY does. Further
what are they thinking about with the issue of "retaining copyright."
The GPL doesn't, as far as I know, prevent anyone from retaining
copyright. I thought in fact that it depended upon it.  You wonder if
they're conflating other licenses with projects that use them in
combination with contributor assignment agreements.

The question of whether allowing proprietary use of the code maximizes
public benefit, now that's an interesting question. I wonder how they
went about testing that assumption. It strikes me as something that
might be true or might instead be susceptible to an existence proof to
the contrary if things went really well for GNU and friends. And then
we might have to agree on what we mean by benefit.

> The terms "Free Software" and "GPL" do not appear anywhere in the rider,
> nor do they appear in general DoE documentation regarding funded
> software. Despite this, the corporate handout state, which is the core
> of the pro-GPL rhetoric, has not come to pass.

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