Public domain software is not open-source?

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Mon Mar 3 18:06:40 UTC 2008


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    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Now, please, can we let this topic rest?

/Larry Rosen 
(along with this entirely gratuitous attribution to Shakespeare, who has no
way at all under copyright law to force me to acknowledge him)

P.S. There is a public domain, but this email isn't in it.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alexander Terekhov [mailto:alexander.terekhov at]
> Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 9:38 AM
> To: lrosen at
> Cc: License Discuss
> Subject: Re: Public domain software is not open-source?
> On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 6:02 PM, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at>
> wrote:
> >
> > Nigel Tzeng wrote:
> >
> > Public Domain software, when the source code is available, meets all of
> the
> > OSD requirements but it isn't under a OSI approved Open Source license
> since
> > there is no license.   However, public domain software can be re-used
> under
> > an OSD compliant license, so in practice the issue is moot.
> >
> > That's a nice, clean summary. /Larry
> I suggest that you write an article explaining how public domain
> software can be "re-used" under a copyright license stating for
> example that "This Open Software License (the "License") applies to
> any original work of authorship (the "Original Work") whose owner (the
> "Licensor") has placed the following licensing notice adjacent to the
> copyright notice for the Original Work: ..." and purporting to grant
> something that doesn't belong to the owner (the "Licensor") because
> former original owner put it into public domain. I suspect that it
> will be no less exciting than your piece on public domain analogizing
> waiver or abandonment of copyright to dumping of personal property in
> the public highway. :-)
> regards,
> alexander.
> --
>  02/26/2008 ENDORSED LETTER addressed to Judge Laura Taylor Swain from
> Daniel B. Ravicher...
>  02/27/2008 ORDER that Defendants Verizon Communications, Inc. has
> until March 14, 2008..."
>   -- 1:07-cv-11070-LTS aka Never Beginning "GPL Enforcement" case

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