Subject: Re: Please add "Public Domain" to "license" list
From: "Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M." <>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 23:40:16 -0500

: Don't let any of our criticisms on this topic lead you to believe that
: none of us want OSI recognition of Public Domain software as Open
: Source Software. That is not the case. There are of course some who do
: feel that way, but many others including myself think it would be a
: useful thing.

This is the only point in David Johnson's post that surprised me, and I hope
it is apparent that I am making a minor distinction. Certainly, without
equivocating about the distinctions you acknowledge exist between open
source and public domain software, an open source adherent is still free to
act on principle by drafting a license that accomplishes the same goal.
Correct? Leaving aside the questions regarding the legal viability of a
public dedication of software, I think it is rather trivial for a specific
programmer to *license* his/her software under terms that achieve the same
ends as a push into the public domain (and, perhaps, the use of a
programming language like Perl...or one that rendered reverse engineering
trivial, if source code were not easily accessible to the end-user).  David
Johnson's points below show that the issue is different for OSI as a
movement with multiple goals and viable business models in mind.


: But you have to realize that there are many problems that would come
: along with this recognition. The first problem is that of domains.
: Public Domain is in a completely different domain that why OSI is
: trying to define. PD has no copyright, while the OSI is trying to
: define a classification of software that has copyrights. It's like
: complaining that the Atlantic Salmon isn't listed in the Big British
: Book of Birds. If you feel that the purpose of bird books is to list
: all animals, then of course your complaint would be valid, but that is
: not the purpose of bird books.
: The second problem is much more serious. How do you *know* that a piece
: of software is in the public domain? You can know that Apache is Open
: Source because it has the necessary attributes of a copyright and
: license that can be used to verify its status. But it's very hard to
: tell if a particular work which claims to be public domain really is.
: This is because merely stating that you are placing your work into the
: public domain is insufficient. Most works that claim to be public
: domain are in fact not. A recognition of Public Domain by the OSI could
: lead a lot of people into legal quagmires.
: So here's a question to you. What is your pressing need for such a
: recognition? What problem is the lack of such recognition causing?
: --
: David Johnson
: ___________________
: --
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