Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Karl Fogel <>
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:03:35 -0400

John Cowan <> writes:
>Public domain is already adequately discussed in the FAQ at
> . The issue is not
>whether PD works are open source, but whether they exist -- that is,
>whether merely saying so can make a work public domain.

When U.S. Government employees write software on government time, it is
public domain by law; they need make no disclaimer of rights, it's just
automatically so.  

(That's where this came up most recently.)

>See (the
>CC0 license) for a license that attempts to put works into the public
>domain, and if that fails, licenses everyone everywhere to use all the
>owner's copyright rights for the duration of the copyright for any
>number of copies and for any purpose.

OSI can point out that it might be difficult for certain parties to
place something in the public domain, but we should be clear about the
fact that, once it is established that something is in the public
domain, that thing is open source.  That's what I'd like to do.

I wish the FAQ discussion were adequate, but since I've watched
knowledgeable people on various lists assert that PD is not OSS, because
they couldn't find it in the license list or other places where they
expected to find it, I think that's as much proof as we could ask for
that the FAQ location is not adequate by itself :-).