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Re: "Public Domain"

Steve Greenland writes:
> I've always understood that placing a (formerly/potentially) copyrighted
> work "in the public domain" is a statement by the author that they are
> giving up all copyright rights (if that's the correct phrase),

There are some copyright "rights" that you cannot give up (though they
aren't really relevant to free software).  There is no such thing as a
potentially copyrighted work.  The copyright comes into existence the
instant you fix the work into tangible form.

> ...and that anyone may use it in any way they please.

That anyone may copy it any way they please.  I agree that is the likely
legal effect.

> For example, most US gov't works are public domain,...

No.  The copyright law forbids the US government to use the copyright law
to enforce its copyright, but does not place such works in the public
domain.  I see nothing that bars the US government from sueing to enforce
its copyrights under the laws of other nations, for example.
John Hasler
john@dhh.gt.org (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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