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The Military Open Source United States

The US Department Of Defense Announces An Open Source Code Repository (defense.gov) 58

"The Pentagon is the latest government entity to join the open-source movement," writes NextGov. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The Defense Department this week launched Code.mil, a public site that will eventually showcase unclassified code written by federal employees. Citizens will be able to use that code for personal and public projects... The Defense Department's Digital Service team, whose members are recruited for short-term stints from companies including Google and Netflix, will be the first to host its code on the site once the agreement is finalized... "This is a direct avenue for the department to tap into a worldwide community of developers to collectively speed up and strengthen the software development process," a DOD post announcing the initiative said. The Pentagon also aims to find software developers and "make connections in support of DOD programs that ultimately service our national security."
Interestingly, there's no copyright protections on code written by federal employees, according to U.S. (and some international) laws, according to the site. "This can make it hard to attach an open source license to our code, and our team here at Defense Digital Service wants to find a solution. You can submit a public comment by opening a GitHub issue on this repository before we finalize the agreement at the end of March."
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The US Department Of Defense Announces An Open Source Code Repository

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2017 @01:40PM (#53933931)

    Stallman may argue that you need to make sure the code is free in the future, but I'd settle for the code being free now.

    • Some countries and international copyright treaties have no concept of "public domain". Other countries use those words to mean something else. The Morris Public License allows users to do anything they want with the code. Morris PL would therefore be suitable:

      Morris Public License Version 1.0

      1) Authorization to copy, modify, and distribute

      Any person, may copy, modify, distribute, or otherwise use the work in any form, without copyright restriction of any kind. All copy rights are hereby disclaimed.

      2) Disc

      • It would still need a statement of origination of some sort implying copyright or ineligibility for others to copyright it to some degree.

        Otherwise, I could take the code, claim copyright, then go back and sue everyone else who mistakenly used it. Perhaps I can convince a judge I own the copyright perhaps not. Copyright is an artificial right granted by law that doesn't make exceptions for when you thought you were legally in the clear because someone else gave you permission. It is entirely possibl

        • I could *claim* copyright to the Mac OS or Microsoft Windows, or to your post. I could sue you right now for using Windows or Mac or whatever you're using - I'd just lose since I didn't write either of those operating systems.

          Anyone can claim anything they want, and there is no way to stop people from making stupid claims. The thing is, they'd need to *prove* their claims or at very least convince people the claim has some likelihood of being proven.

          Can you give me an example of some wording you think shou

          • Some wording-

            "The code represented here is the sole property in origination of acts commissioned by the United States government and thereby not owned or copyrighted by anyone else at the time of original posting unless documented within the code listed."

            Now the difference between this type of code with your license verses windows or mac or anything else is that they have already asserted copyright over the works in question. All we have at this government site is works claimed not to be copyright-able or p

            • I see what you mean, and I don't see any reason to *not* include similar language. Accounting for contributions, even small patches, from non-government sources will probably require some small change to the wording, but that's no big deal. Anyway you'd state that the code as published there is published by or on behalf of the original authors, who disclaim any rights under copyright law.

            • Well, you could take public domain software, modify it, and claim copyright on the modified version. It wouldn't prevent anyone from using the original, but it would annoy Stallman because you would not be required to "give back" anything. Could DoD host a GPL program on its website? Of course, I am sure they already do on the national laboratories websites.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      This.

      The GPL prevents a company from taking open source software developed by enthusiasts, making a few small changes, then charging for it. But here, the government developed the software by charging (in the form of taxes) both individuals and businesses. It makes sense that the code they create should be free to use by everyone. Attaching something like the GPL to it would mean lots of businesses can't use the code without also open-sourcing their own proprietary code.
    • Stallman may argue that you need to make sure the code is free in the future, but I'd settle for the code being free now.

      I don't see any reason they shouldn't do both. They should release it under a good copyleft license, but note on their repository that all source code from the DoD is in the public domain. Those who wish to take the federal code and carefully verify that no non-federal contributions have been added (or who are willing to strip out all of the non-federal code) can use it in whatever way they like, since it's in the public domain. Contributions by others, however, will by default be owned by the contributor b

  • I'm willing to accept that it probably can't be copyrighted.
    That doesn't mean you can't put a license on it. And there are plenty of licenses to choose from. One must be pretty close to suitable.
    • by pem ( 1013437 )
      What's the point of an unenforceable license?

      Isn't there already enough disdain for stupid laws and red tape?

      • Isn't there already enough disdain for stupid laws and red tape?

        FTFY: Isn't there enough stupid laws and red tape?
        Congress: NO.

        We get paid to make laws and try very hard to do both. Especially the former. Well, the latter too. But the former -- don't forget the former. NEVER forger the former.

        ----
        Then again, Trump wants to "remove two laws for every new law". Let's hope that none of them are in the "Too Stupid To Die" category. It may fail horribly (-2 for +1) but at least it's an attempt.

        But then again, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what

      • It could be released under the WTFPL and there are two big reasons to do so that I can think of. Before going into the reasons, here is the text of the WTFPL:

        ----
        DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
        Version 2, December 2004

        Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar

        Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified
        copies of this licens

      • In the sense of them using the associated contract against you, that is true; they can't really force you to agree to it.

        But if you're the one taking some legal action against them regarding the code, then the existence of the contract may or may not make a difference, depending on details.

        So the point is defense. Actually, defense is what the Department of Defense does, so it should be no surprise.

        But note that there is no red tape, just a declaration of claimed facts.

        • by pem ( 1013437 )

          just a declaration of claimed facts.

          That's a reasonable thing to do, of course, but that's a disclaimer, not a license.

          • It doesn't claim to be a license.

            It says, if you're in a country where copyright doesn't apply then there is a contract enforcing the same conditions as the license would. And if you're in a country where copyright does apply, then it applies as a copyright license.

            In the US it is public domain but there is a contract attached to the original source. So if you actually downloaded it from them, the contract probably applies. If "open source" brings it to you by some other means, then probably it does not.

            The

            • by pem ( 1013437 )

              It says, if you're in a country where copyright doesn't apply then there is a contract enforcing the same conditions as the license would.

              Except that doesn't apply in the U.S. Copyright 101 (and a zillion court rulings) say that you can't use a contract to do copyright-type things -- unless you actually have a copyright.

              • It doesn't. If you understood that it is open source, then you'd understand that the contract doesn't do any "copyright-type things."

                • by pem ( 1013437 )
                  WTF are you talking about, Willis? Open source licenses are only effective because of copyright (and patent, in some cases).

                  If you tell someone that there's no warranty, that's a disclaimer. No license or contract required, and the disclaimer may or may not protect you, but that's another issue.

                  If you tell someone "you can only do 'x' with this" then you have to have a right to create that restriction. If we're discussing tangible property, the right is usually pretty obvious, e.g. you own the proper

                  • Try thinking, "Willis." There is no mystery in it. If you didn't understand it, don't press reply, just re-read it and try harder.

                    • by pem ( 1013437 )
                      Given that the DOD github site has now been updated to show they're no longer trying to enforce a license on people who download and use the code, I don't think I'm the clueless one here.
                    • You might still be, the original said that it would be updated after receiving public feedback. By now they've received that feedback.

                    • Way to deflect from your own supercilious ignorance, Willis.
                    • You do not demonstrate comprehension with that statement.

                      Also, why the racist "Willis" pejorative? Are you saying that the reason you think I'm ignorance, even though you didn't comprehend the flow of the conversation and got lost in the middle, is because of my hair? Or was it my lips?

                    • by pem ( 1013437 )
                      I suppose "Willis" is racist in the eye of the beholder, if the beholder thinks that Diff'rent Strokes is racist. I think we're done here; I certainly am.
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      License is laying out the terms under which you won't get in legal trouble copyright wise.

      Without copyright protection, a license makes no sense, because it's impossible to permit or restrict copying and redistribution.

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Sunday February 26, 2017 @02:55PM (#53934233)

      I'm willing to accept that it probably can't be copyrighted.

      That doesn't mean you can't put a license on it. And there are plenty of licenses to choose from. One must be pretty close to suitable.

      There's neither a need for a license, nor would a license have any meaning in this context. The whole purpose of a license is to disclaim or enumerate the rights being retained by the copyright holder. If the works belongs to the public domain, a license has no meaning and any attempt to attach a license would be an attempt to (fraudulently) assert rights that only belong to the owner of the material, of which there is none.

      Setting those concerns aside, there are a few licenses that approximate to varying degrees the rights provided by public domain works (e.g. MIT or BSD), but attaching them to these documents to describe the rights of users would be like saying that the UN charter is the official document Americans should use to understand their right to free speech, rather than the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The laws regarding works in the public domain would still be the governing rules here, rather than whatever license they attached, so it makes no sense to attach a license in the first place.

    • No kidding. They could try asking nicely. Heh, the government asking nicely.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean that Skynet will become sentient and trigger a nuclear holocaust sooner and be more efficient and effective at annihilating humans because it's community driven & free and open source?

  • "This is a direct avenue for the department to tap into a worldwide community of developers to collectively speed up and strengthen the software development process,"

    Perhaps you should ask the NSA to help strengthen your software. What? They are keeping exploits secret to use a weapons? Well, maybe you should do something about it!

  • I want the code for those swarming drones I saw on the YouTuber.
  • I thought there was already a repository of all American D.O.D. code. We just can't access it because it's behind the Great Firewall of China.
  • The US mil faced the same issues after ww2 in 1945 Germany.
    What to do with all the people wondering around/captured by the US mil in 1945 Germany with skills that the French, UK, Soviet Union, nations in South America showed great interest in.
    The US had the option in 1945 to walk away from all German science, to convict a lot of evil people in Germany for what they did during ww2 or fund what was Operation Paperclip https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] .
    The thinking in the US gov/mil on open source and its
  • When the University of Berkeley wanted to release its Unix distribution, they also had the problem of finding a suitable permissible license, without falling into the extreme of Public Domain, which, as others have rightfully observed, isn't always recognized internationally. So they invented the beautiful BSD license. This license had a couple of clauses, that ultimately went down to just two now. How about the DoD releasing their stuff under the 2-Clause BSD License [opensource.org] as well? Short, sweet, crisp, neutral,
  • They should use the Creative Commons Zero copyright waiver, as it is designed for releasing copyright without regard to specific jurisdiction. The full legal text of the license (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/legalcode [creativecommons.org]) contains both a copyright waiver and a fully-permissive license. This way, in case the copyright waiver is found legally unenforceable or invalid, the fully-permissive license kicks in and protects the Affirmer (person who applied the license to the work) and licensee (p
  • It's really great that the US DoD are doing this; but it should be noted that the UK MOD have been doing exactly this for some time now...

    See: https://github.com/dstl/ [github.com]

  • How about a pull request?

    As in, pull my finger.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner

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