OSI enforcement?

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at wanadoo.fr
Sat Jan 12 01:02:58 UTC 2008

Russ Nelson [mailto:nelson at crynwr.com] wrote:
> Philippe Verdy writes:
>  > It's clearly the supporters of closed proprietary schemes trying to
> divide
>  > the movement, like they have already done against by severely impacting
> the
>  > "public domain" (which was popular in the 1970's and the early 1980's)
> Mmmmmm, I think that you'll find that the public domain is still
> around, e.g. Daniel J. Bernstein's recent declaration of all of his
> code as public domain.  People generally want more control over
> acknowledgement than you can get from the public domain.  Giving
> credit is how we pay for our software, and people want a legal
> requirement to get that payment.

Public domain is clearly damaged each time someone will require you prove it
is. For this you need attribution to allow certifying the rights. If
attribution becomes required, Public domain no longer applies if the
attribution must be kept.

In fact, even Creative Commons without the BY condition (required
attribution) does not work as intended and exposes authors to severe risks
about their own work. Daniel Bernstein is taking many risks that someone
will claim ownership on what he Daniel did in the past, and he will have
little defense he can't prove that he was the effective author.

The key protection is the copyright notice line stating:
* the author name, the date of first publication, and the country of origin
where the rights are originated and protected.

If you need it, and require the preservation of attribution notive, this is
no longer public domain like it was. The effective remainining "public
domain" is the one maintained by OFFICIAL national libraries that are
storing proofs of publication for long term, and remove the protection after
some long time and end of all exclusive authors rights.

The public domain should really no longer be used by any living author or
its successoral right owners for a long period; it's ben proven that
national laws can severely impact the terms, and reintroduce exclusive
rights retroactively when they will (including both Russia and US), and
accepting reattribution by accepting the registration of patents on them by
others than the initial authors, including when the true authors are still

Publishing to the public domain offers absolutely no protection for you, and
can be severely damaging for authors (in addition, it may be legally
forbidden in many cases, when laws are requiring identification of liable
authors, and will seek their responsibility which will be valid without an
*explicit* denial of responsibility accepted by downstream users so that
they accept all the consequences of their use, even if this causes them

If you want a minimum protection, then you need:
* the copyright line
* the explicit denial of warranty
I think that it is exactly what all open source and free licences are doing
first before granting any other right or requiring other conditions. And I
can't call it "public domain".

More information about the License-discuss mailing list