Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Karl Fogel <>
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 15:46:16 -0400

Tom Callaway <> writes:
>On 09/07/2011 03:30 PM, Karl Fogel wrote:
>> Which part of my answer wasn't correct, by the way?
>It is far more complicated than your statement that "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."

I've read that page before (and other similar resources), thanks.  I'm
still not seeing the incorrect part of my mail, hence my request for

I mean, I didn't include the "as part of their official duties" part,
because in an active thread there's no point making my post as long as a
Wikipedia article.  My point is simply that there are some works whose
public domain status is unambiguous.  (The government has apparently
asserted that the statute is only about domestic copyright, but that
doesn't appear in the actual text of the law, and I'm not sure if the
assertion has been tested in any meaningful way.)

I know of at least two programs that are intended to be in the public
domain and open source; I'm sure there are others.  Although I don't
think many people even know about our "alternate" FAQ at, I don't think what we
say there is as useful as it could be, although the advice to use a real
license is good.

But note that for the U.S. Government, sometimes there literally is no
option to use a license!  They *can't*, by law, if no contractors were
involved and the software was written by government employees as part of
their official duties, etc, etc.  You see the problem...