Re: DFSG FAQ (draft)
>In the answer to question 9 it might be worth noting the question of
>whether or not things can actually be released into the public
>domain. My understanding is that debian-legal generally quietly
>re-interprets such claims as an extremely permissive license.
In the United States I believe this is not in question. A work can be
released into the public domain by its author(s), provided he/she/they
has the copyright and has not entered into contracts
regarding it. This is the usual case where free software is
concerned. (Other situations are less clear because of the
rule where authors can recover transfered copyrights in a particular
year, potential violations of contract, etc. -- you can't give away
rights you don't have.)
It's probably best to specify a particular preferred form for public
domain releases; Creative Commons has a rather verbose form for this,
quoted below, which makes it quite clear that the author *really* means
to release it to the public domain.
(I have heard rumors that Germany does not recognize copyright
transfers (treating them as revocable licenses), and the
same may apply to public domain dedications. But this is another
Here's the Creative Commons boilerplate:
The person or persons who have associated their work with this document
(the "Dedicator") hereby dedicate the entire copyright in the work of
authorship identified below (the "Work") to the public domain.
Dedicator makes this dedication for the benefit of the public at large
and to the detriment of Dedicator's heirs and successors. Dedicator
intends this dedication to be an overt act of relinquishment in
perpetuity of all present and future rights under copyright law, whether
vested or contingent, in the Work. Dedicator understands that such
relinquishment of all rights includes the relinquishment of all rights
to enforce (by lawsuit or otherwise) those copyrights in the Work.
Dedicator recognizes that, once placed in the public domain, the Work
may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified,
built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any purpose, commercial
or non-commercial, and in any way, including by methods that have not
yet been invented or conceived.
Nathanael Nerode <neroden at gcc.gnu.org>