[Linux-aus] Advice for releasing code

Michael Cordover la at mjec.net
Tue Jan 20 15:29:41 AEDT 2015

Hi John

On 20 January 2015 at 13:56, John Kristensen <john at jerrykan.com> wrote:
> I would like to release the code under a free license, but because a
> large part of the code was developed during work time it isn't as simple
> as slapping a license on it a pushing it out to github.
> My manager is supportive of the idea and has asked the usual
> people/departments about what the procedure is, but the only response
> seems to be "we don't know, talk to the lawyers".

At the federal level AGIMO has some resources[1]. They are mostly
focused on procurement of FLOSS but do talk about the benefits of open
source and distributing under a particular open source licence.

I know that Tasmania does not have an open source policy per se,
however there is broad support at the ministerial level. I have
certainly seen (and been involved with) release of software as open
source at the local government level (I was with Hobart City Council).
Glenorchy and Launceston have also done some open source releases, as
far as I'm aware.

You might also want to clarify the department's position in relation
to your copyright ownership of the code in question. It may be that
you have a right to release it open source without further
consultation (for example, if they agree that you are the copyright
owner or potentially if you are joint owners).

If the lawyers come back and just say no (which is certainly possible)
it will probably be because they don't understand the issue, rather
than because there's any real impediment. You have to go to them
saying "we want to release X under licence Y, can you please advise
how to do that." An approach I've seen is to estimate the software
value (either in development-hours or the value a commercial
arms-length buyer would pay) and then get someone with authority to
spend that much money to approve the release. That way the decision is
made and the approach to the lawyers is just how to implement it, not
whether or not it should be done. As I say, the minister will probably
back it if they ever hear about it.

I am very keen to help out with this, being Tasmanian, a lawyer and
pretty keen on more open source material coming from government. Feel
free to hit me up off-list if you'd like.


[1]: http://www.finance.gov.au/policy-guides-procurement/open-source-software/

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