International treatment of the public domain

Russell McOrmond russell at
Tue Feb 17 19:10:23 UTC 2004

  I believe that the OSI is not USA only, so I hope this question does
receive some discussion.

On Mon, 16 Feb 2004, Russell Nelson wrote:

> jcowan at writes:
>  > So Americans can ignore the civil-servant version of the NOSA license with
>  > impunity, but not so Australians.
> Interesting ... so what happens if an American citizen takes public
> domain US Government software into Australia and starts redistributing
> it there?  But I suppose that's a problem that the NOSA will fix, so
> at least for this discussion it's a moot point.

  What if any US citizen took this work that is under the public domain
(for them) and applied a BSD (or any other) license and redistributed
worldwide?  It appears that with US government created works that every US
citizen has the right to apply licenses to the work, so whether any
specific citizen (or a group) applied a NOSA license doesn't seem all that

  Which license agreements apply to a Canadian like myself?  I would
suspect any of them -- whether it be the NOSA agreement or the BSD or
whatever other license an American wishes to apply to this public domain
work.  If I don't like the NOSA agreement I can just call a friend in the
USA who can offer me the work to me in a BSD license.

  I think there is an interesting question being opened up by this
discussion.  Given that term expiry is not the only way for a work to
enter the public domain, and term expiry can be different in different
countries (A Disney production gets 95 years in the USA but fortunately
only 50 years in Canada), are the other methods to enter into the public
domain also country specific?

  It was always my understanding that a work that was released into the
public domain by its author (Such as by a public domain dedication ) in the USA or any
other country that this work was instantaneously in the public domain in
all countries.

  This thread is outside the topic of license approval so is likely
considered off-topic. This is unless we want to consider the worldwide
applicability of the Creative Commons "public domain dedication" as an OSI
license approval question.

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <> 
 Perspective of a digital copyright reformer on Sheila Copps, MP.
 Discuss at:

license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list