Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 18:38:30 -0400

Thorsten Glaser scripsit:

> (On a related question: files with pre-1989 mtime and no  notice
> _are_ PD in the USA, right? Just to get at least this part clear.)

Only if they were (a) published, (b) first published in the U.S., and
(c) not registered with the Copyright Office within five years of
publication.  Mere lack of notice is not enough unless there was someone
who could have been warned off by that notice but was not.  In addition,
if the notice is omitted contrary to the owner's expressed wishes, or
the publication was without the owner's consent, or the number of copies
lacking notice is sufficiently small, or if reasonable efforts were
made to add notices after it was discovered that they were missing, ...
copyright is not lost.

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm is a
comprehensive decision tree specifying what is in the public domain
in the U.S.  Note that unpublished work from as long ago as 1891 may
be still in U.S. copyright, which is one of the reasons that Project
Gutenberg doesn't deal with anything unpublished.

-- 
No,  John.  I want formats that are actually       John Cowan
useful, rather than over-featured megaliths that   http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
address all questions by piling on ridiculous      cowan@ccil.org
internal links in forms which are hideously
over-complex. --Simon St. Laurent on xml-dev