Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Rod Dixon <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 19:58:43 -0400

 Wed, 7 Sep 2011 19:58:43 -0400
My view is that in the U.S., a work is added to the public domain primarily, if not
exclusively, by operation of law. A work "authored" by the federal government may be
one example and a work in which the limited term of copyright expires is another example.
OSI's view is not relevant; the law controls the outcome. Of course, if you find the
rare work (especially software) that has been added to the PD by operation of law, then
it would be proper to assert that the work could be licensed under an open source license.
 However, the licensor will want to be pretty sure of his or her view (not OSI's) that
the work has been added to the PD.


Sent from my iPhone 

On Sep 7, 2011, at 2:35 PM, Karl Fogel <> wrote:

> I'd like to work some material onto our web site confirming that
> software in the public domain (in the copyright-related sense used in
> the United States, which we would make clear) is open source.
> Yes, I realize that we talk about "licenses" everywhere, and the text
> would make clear that public domain is not really a license, etc, etc.
> But I've seen this point cause confusion on a number of lists now,
> including some that matter, and we should just put it to bed.
> I'm happy to do the work; I just want to make sure there isn't some
> historical debate I'm stepping into here.  Please let me know.  Silence,
> after a reasonable period of time, will be assent :-).
> Best,
> -Karl