making public domain dedication safer

jcowan at jcowan at
Wed Feb 18 19:10:39 UTC 2004

Alex Rousskov scripsit:

> Or is the legal world so badly broken that it is practically
> impossible to reliably place software in public domain?

Pretty much.  Dedications to the public domain have been rare to
nonexistent in the past, and nobody is quite sure whether they can
actually be achieved or not in any one jurisdiction, much less across all
jurisdictions.  Much safer to make use of the well-established mechanism
of licensing, using some machinery such as the MIT, BSD, or AFL licenses.

In general, it is not surprising to find a lack of legal machinery for
doing what until now very few people have wanted to do.  Until 1976,
it was trivial to keep documents out of copyright in the U.S. -- just
publish them without a copyright notice.

> Do I have to
> release two derivative versions of the same software, one in PD and
> one OSI licensed (the "derivation" would be the change of the
> licensing file or source file headers, for example)??

If you must, but it seems unnecessary to me just to make a point about
the evils of copyright.  Evil or not, we're stuck with it under the
current worldwide regime, where to a first approximation everything is
in copyright.

"No, John.  I want formats that are actually       John Cowan
useful, rather than over-featured megaliths that
address all questions by piling on ridiculous
internal links in forms which are hideously        jcowan at
over-complex." --Simon St. Laurent on xml-dev
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