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Re: Some licensing questions regarding celestia

On Tue, 02 Sep 2003, Rick Moen wrote:
> That is _not_ necessary in order for the notion to be doubtful.  It
> pretty much suffices that no statutory mechanism whatsoever exists to
> enact that intention, and for the outcome to be both indeterminate
> and mostly likely jurisdiction-dependent.

The absense of a statutory mechanism isn't really at issue here. There
are hosts of contractual forms for which there is no applicable
statute.[1] The US legal system is not statute bound, as it is a
common law system.

> > What duties of ownership? [Well, at least post 1968.]
> Sundry warranty issues.

Warranty isn't a duty of ownership. Warranty is a duty of a provider,
distributor or retailer. [IE, if you never distribute your work, you
still own its copyright, but there is no warranty involved there.]

> When you use (e.g.) a third-party BSD-licensed work, you are relying
> on the creator having sufficient title that his permission grant can
> be relied upon, but that is usually a well-founded assumption.  With
> code you come across that is described as "public domain",
> statistically, you will find upon deeper examination that the person
> making that declaration simply isn't taking copyright issues
> seriously.

In both cases, you have the a person who is presumably the copyright
holder making the statement. If they're not the copyright holder, you
have a problem. If they are, you're ok.

If you move to incorporate any code under any license, be it public
domain or not, it is always your responsibility to perform due
diligence and research the validity of said copyright claims. If you
don't, you're likely to get sued and lose.

> My point is that, in my experience, a claim that a package is "public
> domain" has a high statistical correlation with title problems, which
> people making derivative works must beware of.

That's a problem with people making false statements, rather than a
problem with the concept of placing a work into the public domain

What seems to be occuring here is a conflating of facts and law.
Whether or not someone owns the copyright on a work is primarily a
question of fact, not of law.

I have nothing to say one way or another about the facts involving
public domain works and works that purport to be public domain but are
not. I'm merely discussing the law as it applies to public domain and
works that are dedicated to the public domain.

Don Armstrong
1: For a rather popular one, see the Magna Carta
A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but
won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
 -- Bill Vaughan


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