For Approval: Academic Citing License

Rick Moen rick at
Mon Sep 27 17:58:54 UTC 2004

Quoting Alex Rousskov (rousskov at

> >And how many of those projects did _you_ licence-audit, Alex?  I 
> >imagine that would be precisely zero, nicht wahr?
> I currently author/admin a couple of Public Domain projects on Source 
> Forge, so you would be precisely wrong.

Allow me to refresh your memory, Mr. Rousskov:

I said:

You are (obviously) correct in the abstract, but I investigated quite a
number of these as I was vetting PalmOS codebases for inclusion in my
collection of all open-source PalmOS packages
(  It turned out that basically _all_ of
the packages I checked had various encumbrances by upstream copyright
rights (e.g., prior authors), but that, in each case, basically the
project lead developer was using "public domain" as shorthand to mean "I
don't understand licensing and/or want the problem to go away".

Perhaps thinking yourself a comedian, you said:

...and/or as a shorthand to mean "my understanding of a Public Domain
concept differs from that of Rick Moen" :-/.

To which I rejoined:  "And how many of those projects did _you_
licence-audit, Alex?"

Would you like to try the question again, or do you need the concept of
"all of the [PalmOS] packages I checked" explained to you?

> The point is that you are using your interpretation of Public Domain 
> status to portrait authors of Public Domain projects (other than US 
> government agents, I assume) as clueless about licensing problems. 

I spoke of the ones I checked, sir.  Unlike some people I could name, I 
attempt to be specific.

> Believe it or not, but disagreeing with you does not make somebody 
> clueless or ignorant.

Don't look now, but Irony is checking your dance-card.

> There are many clueless folks selecting distribution terms for their 
> software (regardless of the licensing model), and I believe it is 
> unfair to single out those who pick Public Domain.

Statistical sampling thus far suggests that you lose.

> I do agree that it would be great for OSI to write about Public Domain 
> software.

Is there some particular part of it not being a licence that you still
aren't getting?

Cheers,   If C gives you enough rope to hang yourself, then C++ gives you enough
Rick Moen    to bind and gag your neighbourhood, rig the sails on a small ship,
rick at    and still have enough to hang yourself from the yardarm.

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