[License-discuss] Government licenses

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Tue Jun 4 12:19:48 UTC 2019

On Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 4:13 AM Henrik Ingo <henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi>

> > As noted in the preceding link, prevailing view and treatment is that
> there is full copyright protection in some jurisdictions.
> Clearly it is not *prevailing* in this community.

No one has polled us, so no one knows if it is actually prevailing or not.
 Mailing-list etiquette is generally against +1s: the Gricean maxim is "If
you can't say something critical, don't say anything at all."  I for one
accept the claim that copyright protection is not, in general, waived in
non-US jurisdictions, and follows the law of that jurisdiction.  (Canada
for one makes it clear that U.S. government works are copyright in Canada

The House Report you kindly advertised, seems to say that any single

government employee is free to publish such code:
> "The effect of section 105 is intended to place all works of the
> United States Government, published or unpublished, in the public
> domain. This means that the individual Government official or employee
> who wrote the work could not secure copyright in it or restrain its
> dissemination by the Government or anyone else, but it also means
> that, as far as the copyright law is concerned, the Government could
> not restrain the employee or official from disseminating the work if
> he or she chooses to do so. The use of the term “work of the United
> States Government” does not mean that a work falling within the
> definition of that term is the property of the U.S. Government. "
> ...after all, that's what public domain means. So apparently it only
> takes one government official with concern for the public good.

But note the crucial phrase "as far as the copyright law is concerned".
Having one immunity (being sued for breach of copyright) does not mean
having all necessary immunities.  In particular, a restriction against
publishing anything could be part of a contract of employment or simply
cause for dismissal among those of us who work without contracts.

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
Monday we watch-a Firefly's house, but he no come out.  He wasn't home.
Tuesday we go to the ball game, but he fool us.  He no show up.  Wednesday
go to the ball game, and we fool him.  We no show up.  Thursday was a
double-header.  Nobody show up.  Friday it rained all day.  There was no
game, so we stayed home and we listened to it on-a the radio.  --Chicolini
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