Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Thorsten Glaser <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 22:19:42 +0000 (UTC)

Chad Perrin <perrin <at>> writes:

> it was public domain?  If that works (presumably anywhere), I should
> start shipping code whose license terms I do not like to nations where
> there essentially is no such thing as copyright, have an associate there
> make a minor modification and relicense it, then import it back here.

Asides from you probably not being allowed to do the initial shipping,
that was the question which arose from this. That would at least “save”
the BSD legacy codebase I inherited…

> I suppose there's an argument to be made that, because the copyright
> comes as a result of the creation of the work within the US, the law in
> the US that allows the work to be relicensed with copyright assigned to
> the modifier might essentially cause a copyright fork in other countries.
> The unmodified version would then be strict copyright "owned" by the
> origninator without any license, while the modified version would be
> copyright "owned" by the modifier licensed under the terms of the BSD
> License, if this is how it works.  I'm no lawyer, though, and am not in a

That would be the hope. The magic might be in the place where, by Berne,
the foreign (US) author’s rights are the same as a native author’s (EU)
in EU, and if the only (US) author of the modified, BSD-licenced work is
the “frontman” associate, good. (In which case we need not care about the
original work which has no (US) author but their natural persons outside.)

On the other hand, this sounds too good to be true, especially in a
legal context. That’s why I’m asking.

(There’s also the case where I got a tape of ditroff, no explicit ©
notices but also no licence – it would be PD in the USA because it
predates 1989, but I can’t use it as-is, leaving me with AT&T nroff,
more than a decade older, under the Caldera licence.)