Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 14:54:18 -0700

Quoting Thorsten Glaser (

> Rick Moen <rick <at>> writes:
> > [1] Note that even VistA isn't necessarily public domain in other
> > countries outside the USA. 
> What's it then? (Assuming it's big enough to actually warrant
> protection under copyright law, which this one seems to be.)
> If some (non-government) US American were to take VistA, change some
> amount of work in it, then publish the result --  with his changes under
> say the BSD licence -- what's it then, to us non-Americans?

If, hypothetically, the US Federal government were to assert copyright
title in non-US legal jurisdictions over works such as VistA (that are
PD in the USA by operation of 17 U.S.C. 105), then by default the work
would, in those countries, be encumbered by a proprietary copyright
title, same as any other work, because of the Berne international
copyright regime that causes copyright title to vest in the creator 
at the moment the work is put into fixed form.

In that hypothetical, the US resident who published a BSD-licensed
derivative work would not be violating the Feds' copyright, as no such
copyright would exist domestically.  However, the moment he/she checked
the code into his/her favourite code hosting site in Amsterdam, legal
hilarity in European courts might ensue (copyright violation claims).

That's strictly hypothetical because the Feds apparently haven't ever
asserted foreign copyright over 17 U.S.C. 105 PD works, just pointed out
that they theoretically could.  Also, it's pretty clear that they have
no further interest in VistA.

Cheers,             "Misplaced modifiers are always in the last place you look."
Rick Moen                                                 -- Fake AP Stylebook  
McQ!  (4x80)