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Re: What is the licence of Debian-specific files (Was: Intent to package "vibrant" graphical library

On Tue, Feb 16, 1999 at 10:46:18PM +0000, Jules Bean wrote:
> > there is no copyright or license for public domain stuff. you can do
> > *anything* you want with it.
> You can do anything you want.  However, you cannot 'license' it.  You can
> sell it, of course.  However, you cannot stop someone else from copying
> it.
> There are two major reasons that it might be illegal to copy something:
> 1) You are violating someone's copyright;
> 2) You have signed a contract stating that you will not do it.
> If I take something which is 'in the public domain', and give it to you,
> saying 'this is GPL'ed', then I cannot stop you copying it.  If you
> copy it, you certainly haven't violated my copyright - since I don't have
> the copyright. You have potentially violated the copyright of the original
> owner - but he has given you permission to do anything at all with it.

you are missing the crucial point about public domain stuff:


that's why it is called "public domain".

the fact that there is no copyright means that you can do ANYTHING you
want with public domain stuff, INCLUDING re-license it under any terms
you like.

> I am fairly sure that you will also find that the phrase 'in the
> public domain', whilst having a fairly common popular usage,
> doesn't have any precise legal definition. I believe it is normally
> interpreted, more or less, as 'you may copy at will'.

it specifically means "no copyright". a work with no copyright can have
no restrictions whatsoever on distribution.

consider dBase. in the 80s, that was based on original public domain
code (as it was created by the US government). however, there was
NOTHING preventing Ashton-Tate from copyrighting their version and suing
anyone who infringed on their rights.


craig sanders

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