Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 13:56:29 -0700

Quoting Tom Callaway (

>   Works of the United States Government for which copyright is
>   unavailable under 17 U.S.C. 105. are considered to be in the Public
>   Domain in the United States. Even though such works are not
>   technically open source, in the United States this means that
>   there are no restrictions on those works. This may not be true in
>   non-US jurisdictions. Public Domain is an extremely complicated and
>   tricky concept, and the OSI does not endorse abandoning your
>   copyrights to place a work into the Public Domain whenever it is
>   avoidable. If you wish to license your work with an extremely
>   permissive "do anything you wish" license that is roughly equivalent
>   to a Public Domain work, consider using the Creative Commons 0
>   License, if possible.

I notice that this basically sound and commendably concise advice 
is missing the closing recommendation in the existing FAQ item on :

  We strongly recommend copyright holders instead release such code
  under a  permissive license to achieve the same effect more safely. 

It's not clear that CC0 is a safe and effective extremely permissive
licence.  MIT Licence (about 20 lines) is.

This is effective and single-line but leaves open warranty exposure, and 
is obviously open source albeit not OSI Certified:

Copyright 2011 (C) George Coder.  Do whatever you want with this work.

One extra line fixes the warranty exposure:

Copyright 2011 (C) George Coder.  Do whatever you want with this work,
provided you agree that there is no warranty of any kind.

In my experience, the people who advocate 'public domain' claim that
even the one-line version is 'too long and complex', i.e., what they
really mean is 'I don't like copyright law and want to magic it away.'

Cheers,           "Now, at this point, I should have remembered that profound
Rick Moen         truism:  'Some people, when confronted with a Unix problem,
rick@linuxmafia.  think, "I know, I'll use sed." Now, they have two problems.'"
com  McQ!  (4x80)       -- Jamie Zawinski, Unix-Haters mailing list, 1992-12-12