Subject: Re: Licenses vs. public domain
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 12:19:44 -0700
Mon, 29 May 2000 12:19:44 -0700
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On Mon, May 29, 2000 at 08:06:04AM -0600, Kevin S. Van Horn wrote:
> > I like to employ the (reasonably accurate IMO) analog of real property
> > (real estate) and public parks.  A public park is open to all.  The
> I really think the analogy between ideas/information and concrete property
> inappropriate.  

Analogies can be useful if their limitations are recognized.  The point
of this analogy was conveniently edited out by you, despite being labled
"The point":

    [Karsten Self]
    The point being, it's possible to utilize real property rights and
    land use regulation to provide a shared benefit -- you don't have
    to go and outlaw private property to have parks.
Similarly, it's not necessary to abolish all intellectual property laws,
and certainly not copyright, to have free software.  Quite the contrary,
most of the free software utilize copyright protections directly in
enforcing their terms.  This has been called "judo IP" by a number of
commentators (myself, Hal Varian (UC Berkeley economics professor,
Andrew Greenberg (IP lawyer)).

The nonexclusivity of IP consumption vis-a-vis real property is well
established.  However, the significance of ownership remains important
when issues such as terms of use, integrity, attribution, and defense of
same, are considered.  Free software is as prone to protocol hijacking,
trademark dillution, content appropriation, etc., as is proprietary
software, and must be defended against same.  A difference in terms of
use does not mean an abrogation of ownership or ownership interest.

> >> I ask because several of the popular existing licenses are barely
> >> distinguishable from public domain.
> >
> > Which?  Artistic comes to mind.  None others off the top of my head.
> BSD, for example.  The only thing it requires is that you acknowledge the
> authors in the sources.  As I recall, the X license is also similarly
> unrestrictive.  I say these are barely distinguishable from PD because the
> requirements are so light.

Copyright ownership is retained under the BSD license.  Protections
under copyright law, including those listed under 17 USC sections
502-510[1].  Despite the liberal terms of the BSD and MIT licenses, the
original author(s) retain copyright, and can utilize copyright
protections in the event terms are not adhered to.

The key distinction of the Artistic License is that it specifically
allows for modified code to be placed under the Public Domain [2].
Once a work has entered into the public domain, effective control over it
by the original author(s) has lapsed.  While the Artistic License applies
to first-generation derived works, it may not apply to second-generation
derived works.  This to my mind is the key difference.

Ben Tilly -- consider these remarks as responding to your point as well.

It's been said that Larry Wall retains rights to the name "Perl" under
the Artistic License.  What's the specific mechanism for this?  I see
sections (3)(c) and (4)(c) as possibly contributing to this.  Anything
else I'm missing?

Karsten M. Self <>
  Evangelist, Opensales, Inc.             
   What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?      Debian GNU/Linux rocks!      K5:
GPG fingerprint: F932 8B25 5FDD 2528 D595  DC61 3847 889F 55F2 B9B0

[1] Which you'll find here:

[2] Section (3)(a)   

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