Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Karl Fogel <>
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 17:50:00 -0400
Wed, 07 Sep 2011 17:50:00 -0400
Chad Perrin <> writes:
>Derivative, involving additions under other licenses -- yes.
>Modifications to the original -- no.  BSD and MIT licenses still require
>inclusion of the license in modified versions.  

That's slightly different.  They require that because whatever original
code remains is still under that original license.  But the presence of
that original header doesn't mean that your new code is automatically
under the same license.  You may choose to "reuse" the header, because
you like that license.  But you might include another copyright notice
that describes the different copyright on your changes.

>The public domain example requires re-dedication to the public domain,
>as I understand it, every time someone modifies it.  The inheritance
>characteristics are notably different.  I just don't believe that
>disqualifies it as open source software, in the spirit of the OSD.

Publishing new changes to (say) BSD code also requires
"re-notification", it's just that the most common way to achieve the
desired result is to leave the existing license header intact.

PD doesn't require re-dedication to PD, by the way, but if it's to
remain open source it *does* require some statement about the new
changes, that ensures receivers that the new code is also open source.
That statement could be a supplemental PD dedication, if such a thing
were possible to do reliably (apparently doubtful), or it could be a
standard license (easier).

So this derived works thing is perhaps logistically a bit harder with
PD, but it's not conceptually different.

Again, for the purposes of US gov't code, they often don't have a choice
anyway, so this has to get solved somehow.  We're not going to get a new
law through Congress here any time soon :-).


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