[Linux-aus] Advice for releasing code

John Kristensen john at jerrykan.com
Wed Jan 21 14:52:12 AEDT 2015

Hello Michael,

On 20/01/15 15:29, Michael Cordover wrote:
> 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.

Do you happen to have links to any of these releases? I may be helpful
to point towards them as other examples of code that has been released

> 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).

This is something I have thought about from time to time (and I suspect
I know the answer) but it didn't occur to me to actually investigate it
as part of this process and maybe even come to some sort of arrangement
for future code I produce.

> 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.

This sounds like a good approach. Thanks for the suggestion.

> 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.

Thanks for the offer. I'm not expecting major problems, but it is nice
to know you are happy to help if the lawyers have any concerns about
this stuff.


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

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