Public domain software is not open-source?

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Wed Mar 5 09:10:19 UTC 2008

> De : Rick Moen [mailto:rick at] 
> Envoyé : mercredi 5 mars 2008 01:53
> À : license-discuss at
> Objet : Re: Public domain software is not open-source?
> Quoting Matthew Flaschen (matthew.flaschen at
> > Philippe Verdy wrote:
> > >You forgot to give the copyright notice (independantly of 
> the licence 
> > >providing grants of use or transmission and forwarding)... 
> You are in 
> > >trouble because of violation of your own terms by yourself!
> > 
> > The Berne convention does not require a copyright notice.  
> He can not 
> > violate his own license by omitting one.
> He could not violate his own licence anyway, because -- 
> obviously -- he doesn't _need_ a licence to use a creative 
> work whose copyright he owns outright.  _Other_ people need 
> some sort of permission; a copyright owner's rights are 
> inherent unless and until he/she transfers title to someone else.  
> (I am actually assuming and hoping that Philippe's post was 
> facetious.)

Yes it is, but the email I responed was facetious too...
What I want to demonstrate is that before saying that some content is
protected and made accessible under the terms of a licence, you must know
who is delivering the licence, in order to see if he is in legitimate right
for providing this licence. In other words, he has to make a claim early.
Suppose this claim is invalid, then he is violating another licence or other
rights; suppose this claim is valid then it is the base for protection
against claims by others; suppose there's no claim, then someone else (any
one) can claim these rights later for himself, and the initial author will
have to defend and proove a counter claim within a dispute resolution
procedure, or in court. That's lot of complication.

Now suppose that he really does not want to make this claim, then there's
legitimate reason to think that in fact he does not have any right on what
he is sending. What he writes there just indicates that there *may* be a
licence, it does not prove that these are the correct terms for the licence,
or if the terms are removing rights from another original licence.

I tend to think that anyone that provides some content with a licence but
without signing it and claiming it the right way with a copyright notice is
a liar, and I can't trust anything and certainly not the exposed licence.

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