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On Wed, 17 Feb 1999, Anthony Towns wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 16, 1999 at 08:15:15PM -0600, John Hasler wrote:
> > > a work that is public domain has no copyright.  a work that has no
> > > copyright is public domain.
> > And nothing you do can change that.
> Okay, this is getting pointless.
> If anyone has references to statutes, judgements or other informed
> opinions that clarfiy the matter, please point them out. Otherwise it's
> about time we just admit "We're not lawyers, we don't know" and either
> move on, or ask someone who is.

I did.

I spoke to an in-house lawyer at a software company, who does a lot of
copyright work.

According to him:

i) 'in the public domain' is a phrase normally used of information, not
copyrightable material.  As applied to software, a court would likely
interpret it as giving unrestricted permission to copy.

ii) Something which you have acquired from someone else is still their
copyright unless they explicitly signed it over to you.  Irrespective of
how lax their license, you can never re-license it, in the sense that you
can never restrict how others copy it - it's simply not your copyright.

iii) If you have contributed some additional work of your own, then the
new work has combined copyright.  Whether someone can 'unpick' your work
and resdistribute the original depends on the particular case.  If they
did succeed, they'd be able to distribute under the terms of the original
work, not your terms. 


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