Public domain

John Cowan jcowan at
Thu Nov 8 16:00:36 UTC 2001

DeBug wrote:

> Explain me please why <public domain work> means that anybody can take
> control over it. I would suggest <public domain work> means noone can
> take control over it.
> By taking control i mean commanding how other people should or should
> not use it.

In that sense, no, no one can take control of a public domain work.
In a more practical sense, however, it can be done.  Suppose you had
written, and placed into the public domain, a program with a subtle
Y2K bug.  I then fix the bug and make my version proprietary.
Now (in 2001) the original version is useless, and I can extract
monopoly profits from the users.  It is true that anyone else may fix
the same bug and issue a competing free version, but in cases where
this is difficult I may continue to own the market.

Copylefted software makes this impossible.


Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan at>
    the corridors               ||
during the hours of repose     ||
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel

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