Public domain software is not open-source?

Rick Moen rick at
Sun Mar 2 09:41:04 UTC 2008

Quoting Matthew Flaschen (matthew.flaschen at

> This isn't my discussion.  I am merely pointing out that OSI has 
> recognized the possibility (note: not existence) of PD, open source, 
> computer software.

At bare minimum, software of some very early computers will have, by
now, passed into the public domain unequivocably.  I doubt any remains
of general interest, however.

In any event (as my page also mentions in passing), OSI's certification
program certifies licences.  Public domain is not a licence.

> >but which software are you speaking of -- and isn't the question
> >of whether it's really public domain or not the very thing that must
> >first be determined?  
> Not necessarily, though that's certainly relevant for someone 
> considering reuse.

I really cannot think of any other question that takes greater priority,
in the circumstance you speak of:  It would be a great waste of time, at
best, to debate whether software in licence condition [foo] is open
source before verifying one's starting premise.

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