Subject: Re: Open Source and Government agencies
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 12:37:24 -0800

On Sun, Feb 27, 2000 at 03:09:38PM -0500, Lynn Winebarger wrote:
> On Sun, 27 Feb 2000, Frank Hecker wrote:
> > I agree with Rich Morin on this point: if the software is developed by a
> > U.S. government employee or employees then it is and must be in the
> > public domain, and hence anyone (other the U.S. government itself) can
> > copyright the software and (re)release it under a license of their
> > choice. And to expand on what Crispin Cowan wrote, I think this ability
> > of others to copyright and license offers some possibilities.
> > 
>    Correction: no one can copyright PD software.  You can copyright
> derived works, but the strength of that copyright will depend on how much
> original work you've done, and still wouldn't apply to any portions that
> are still verbatim from the original PD work.

I believe the issue is less one of copyrighting and more one of
licensing.  Though the issue of copyright and who owns what in derived
works is somewhat complicated.

While copyright may not be something claimable in PD works, a reissue of
the work may (or may not) be able to specify specific licensing terms.
I see this as a branching of releases -- the original work is still PD,
but relicensed branches follow their own evolutionary track.

Even if the situation is as Lynn describes, with contributions subject
to author copyright and original work still PD, in a sufficiently rich
development environment issues of copyright ownership will probably
become sufficiently convoluted that a party which wished in good faith
to use the PD work would prefer going to the original source than to the
relicensed derivative work.

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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