Subject: Re: Software as a public service
From: DV Henkel-Wallace <>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 14:57:29 -0800

On 14 Mar 2005, at 13:18, Ben Tilly wrote:

> On Mon, 14 Mar 2005 11:46:52 -0800, DV Henkel-Wallace
> <> wrote:
>> - What about changes to a proprietary program funded by the 
>> government?
> Not copyrighted doesn't mean that it has to be distributed.
> Furthermore once you mix the public text with proprietary text,
> the whole has a copyright on it.
>> - What about de minimus code (e.g. an Excel macro that is written and
>> used once in the course of an afternoon?)
> To me "public" means "not copyrighted".  It doesn't mean that it
> has to be distributed.

Perhaps you consider it splitting hairs, but I personally:
1 - Don't see the point of worrying about the copyright status of
      something that's not distributed.
2 - Don't see why software should be different from other
      government "documents" in regards to distribution, copyright
      or other issues (note that in the US this was implicitly confirmed
      by the Bernstein case, where code was held to be "speech" in
      the sense of the first amendment to the US constitution).
3 - Feel that, with few exceptions, _every document_ a government
      produces should be available for distribution.  If nobody asks
      for it that's fine, but it should be accessible, which includes 
      able to discover that it's there in the first place (e.g. don't 
bury all
      your documents by storing them on a hard drive in an encrypted
      format with names that are constructed from the inode number of
      the file).