[License-discuss] Can OSI take stance that U.S. public domain is open source?

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Fri May 2 19:55:55 UTC 2014

This thread on GitHub gets (needlessly?) complicated.  It's about a
public-domain software work put out by the U.S. government, and there's
no clarity on whether calling it "open source" and citing the OSI's
definition of the term would be appropriate:


Someone cites our FAQ item on it (which, as its primary author, I found
tickled my vanity :-) ), but really, I wish they didn't have to cite the
OSI FAQ and could instead just say "yup, public domain is open source".

The things we don't like about public domain (lack of explicit liability
limitation, different definitions in different jurisdictions) are not in
themselves counter to the OSD, after all.

Thoughts?  Should OSI look for a route to say that public domain works
(like ones put out by the U.S. government) are open source too, or is it
just too problematic?

Stirring the pot,

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