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Certain government agencies and subsidiaries are exempt from having their work considered "government work" and can thus claim copyright if they want. I'm guessing the NSA is such and agency. Also if the work was actually done by a contractor then there are other exemptions.

Thanks, but I'm not sure that's it. For example, when I look at at [1], I see an apparent contradiction with [2]. It almost seems like they don't know what they're doing, but surely that's because I'm misunderstanding what's going on?

[1] https://github.com/NationalSecurityAgency/DCP/blob/21c8d3efe...

[2] https://github.com/NationalSecurityAgency/DCP/blob/496402fa9...

Well if they are forking or contributing to other software or any type of derivative work, they probably have to retain the original license by law

That's not the case at least in the example I just gave though, right?

It could also be based upon patent rights, I know that employees get a 50% ownership of all patents, maybe that's part of it?

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