Subject: Re: Please add "Public Domain" to "license" list
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 14:51:55 -0800

Quoting John Cowan (
> Rick Moen scripsit:
> > To repeat:  I see nothing in 17 USC that permits destruction of
> > extant copyright title.  
> Quite right.  But it is a property right, and in general any sort of
> property right can be abandoned either with words or with the
> appropriate actions.  (E.g. you have no property rights in your trash
> after you have put it in the bin, and anyone may search it and use the
> contents as they wish.)

However, abandoned property is still property.  It merely becomes
someone _else's_ property.  I.e., if you visit a scrapheap and want to
take away some goods, the odds are that you'll have to pay for them.  
My point is that pointing your magic wand at a copyright and saying "I
declare you to no longer exist" may not work.  It's a debatable legal

> Presumably Augusta Lovelace's programs for the Analytical Engine are 
> Open Source too.  (Are they in print or on the Net anywhere?)

That would be intriguing to find out.  Yes, that's in the vanishingly
small category of formerly copyrighted software that is now public
domain.  Damned hard to track down those CPUs, though.  Not to mention
the coal-delivery charges.

> The question is, can you use "OSI Certified" on public domain software?

Quoting:  "Use of these marks for software that is not distributed
under an OSI approved license is an infringement of  OSI's certification
marks and is against the law."

So, if you see a piece of genuinely public domain software, fork it,
slap your copyright on it and a 2-clause BSD licence, and append the OSI
certification mark.  ;->

Cheers,               It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
Rick Moen          It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
rick@            The hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning,         It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
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