making public domain dedication safer

Mahesh T. Pai paivakil at
Wed Feb 18 13:59:55 UTC 2004

Alex Rousskov said on Tue, Feb 17, 2004 at 02:26:11PM -0700,:


 > 	The Authors place this Software is in Public Domain.
 > 	<Creative Commons public domain dedication follows>
 > 	If the above Public Domain dedication is deemed invalid
 > 	under any theory of law, current or future, this Software
 > 	can be dealt with under any OSI-approved license, including,
 > 	without limitation, BSD and MIT licenses.
 > The above is unpolished because I am not sure it makes sense from a
 > legal point of view. After all, the above combination contains
 > contradictory assumptions (public domain versus copyrighted/licensed
 > code). Specifically,

If, by contradictory, you mean the document saying that it places work
in public  domain, and  then, it  goes on to  talk of  licenses, then,
no. It is not contradictory.

The choice  is given to  you, as  a recipient of  a work, and  you can
exercise the  that choice  if, and *only*  if the `dedication'  is not
valid for some reason.

I wracked my  meagre brains to find some reason  whya court would hold
the part  coming after  `If the above  Public Domain ...'  invalid for
some reason, and I cannot find any.

So, what is your problem?

 >   - Can PD+license combination be legal?

You will  be contradicting yourselves.  On one hand, you  declare your
work to  be in public domain, and  then go on exercise  to your rights
under the  law of  copyright, namely  grant a license  `in rem'  as we
lawyers would call it.
 >   - Can a reference to "any OSI-approved license" be legal?

Why should it not be?? `OSI  approved license' are, at any given point
of time,  finite in  number, definite as  to identify,  and accessible
usually from the web.
 >   - Is the above approach likely to make PD dedications safer?


Rather,  it will tend  to nullify  your actions  in dedicating  to PD,
since the courts  are likely to say that  you contradicted yourselves,
and therefore your intent was  not clear enough, and most likely, both
the dedication and license might fail.

  Mahesh T. Pai, LL.M.,                   
  'NANDINI', S. R. M. Road,               
  Ernakulam, Cochin-682018,               
  Kerala, India.                          
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