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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 11:08:17PM +0000, Jules Bean wrote:
> On Wed, 17 Feb 1999, Craig Sanders wrote:
> > 
> > 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'm not missing the point, Craig.  However, we're certainly not making
> progress :-)

nope, we're going around the same point again and again.

> I do understand what you're saying.  However, as I understand it, you
> cannot relicense code.

wrong. it's more like the reverse of what you said - your inability
to re-license someone else's work rests in the fact that THEY own the
copyright and not you. i.e. it is their copyright which prevents you,
and not your lack of copyright.

this is one of the reasons why releasing free software under the GPL is
far superior to releasing it as public domain.  The GPL ensures that
"once free, always free".  Public domain does not.

> Your ability to license is founded in your copyright, and you don't
> have copyright over public domain code. 

wrong. it's more like the reverse of that - your inability to license
someone else's work rests in the fact that THEY own the copyright. i.e.
it is their copyright which prevents you, not your lack of copyright.

if there is no copyright, then there is nothing to prevent your from
doing so.

in any case, you are copyrighting your compilation or derived work of
the original public domain work. because there is no copyright on the
original, there is nothing to prevent you from including it in to your
work.  Your copyright applies to the whole, including the original PD
work and your work.

anyone can still use and distribute the original public domain version,
but they may not do anything with your version unless explicitly
permitted to do so by your license...just like any other copyrighted

> > 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.
> 1) US goverment work is never public domain.  It is "(c) US
> Goverment". *however*, the goverment is constitutionally unable to
> uphold this copyright, and thus has to give unrestricted permission
> to copy.  That doesn't mean the code isn't the property (intellectual
> property, that is) of the US government - it simply means they won't
> (mayn't) enforce it.

copyright which is unable to be legally enforced, which is
constitutionally invalid, is the same as no copyright. no copyright
means public domain.

a work that is public domain has no copyright.
a work that has no copyright is public domain.

> 2) Ashton-Tate have copyright on their modifications.  They can
> prevent you copying this, but not the underlying code, which remains
> the property of the US government.

they can prevent you from deriving a work from their version, even if
your derivation is nothing but a reversion to the original work.  Their
copyright applies to the entirety of their version.

as mentioned previously, this can be difficult for them to prove.



craig sanders

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