Subject: Re: Please add "Public Domain" to "license" list
From: "Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M." <>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 23:10:27 -0500

I, too, favor a more robust public domain for software than most acknowledge
exists today.  Unfortunately, this topic is infused with unclear
distinctions, but what is apparent is a difference between what is real and
what is ideal. David's position seems to border on idealistic expectations.
If one can find "truly public domain" source code, by all means the finder
should use it; nothing from OSI would be required.

By definition, public domain source code is not protected by copyright, but
open source software is, at least, subject to copyright protection; this
distinction is rather significant.  We should not equivocate about the
distinctions between software controlled by an open source software license
and source code "found" in the public domain.


: Quoting David A. Wheeler (
: > Actually, I've looked over some of the OSI-approved licenses.
: > I'm still not convinced that there's ever a good reason for
: > authors of software to use some of those approved licenses either :-).
: The OSI doesn't advocate particular licences:  It approves _only_ their
: claim to OSD-compliance.
: > I wasn't aware that the OSI ever requires that all OSI
: > members "like" the side-effects of the release conditions - as
: > long as they meet the spirit & letter of the OSD, they
: > should be approved.
: Your rhetoric is overreaching, again:  OSI doesn't "require" anything,
: other than that people wanting to use its certification mark meet
: specified requirements, including usage of an approved licence.
: > I'm not asking the OSI to RECOMMEND releasing software as public
: > domain, or to use public domain software.  Just a clarification
: > that public domain source code (if truly public domain)
: > is open source software.
: Feel free to write such a clarification that's markedly less problematic
: than the one you attempted before, then -- and don't forget to suggest
: somewhere appropriate to post it.  (The page of approved licences, which
: you have urged, is an obvious non-starter.)
: --
: Cheers,                   "Teach a man to make fire, and he will be warm
: Rick Moen                 for a day.  Set a man on fire, and he will be
:       for the rest of his life."   -- John A. Hrastar
: --
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