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Re: Some licensing questions regarding celestia

On Tue, 02 Sep 2003, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Don Armstrong (don@donarmstrong.com):
>> You maintain that it's because dedicating a work to the public domain
>> is meaningless.
> This I did not say.

It's either meaningless or meaningfull. I can't quite reconcile the
idea of it being both.

If you're trying to say that the statements themselves aren't as well
tested as other types of licences, that may well be. However, the same
sort of problem exists with the GPL and other copyleft licenses, a
whole class of licences which has yet to be tested in a court of law.
[At least to my knowledge.]

>> My argument[1], for reference, is that a work dedicated to the public
>> domain is equivalent to a work with a license granting unlimited
>> unrevokable rights to the public to use, modify, copy, etc.
> That is an opinion, with no known support in law.  

It follows directly from contract law. Baring legistlative or case law
hurdles, you can make a contract or license to establish almost any
type of relationship between two legal entities.

The US common law system is largely a legal system of prohibition, not
of permission. [Other countries (Russia, Germany(?)) may have
different systems.] That is, anything not specifically prohibited is

> Pity that there is no caselaw, and no specified mechanism in statutes
> for an extant, unexpired copyright to be destroyed by the owner.  If
> you hear of relevant case citations, I will be very interested to see
> them.

I think I'm beginning to see the problem here.

Dedicating a work to the public does not require that the copyright be
destroyed. The original owner can still be considered to own the
copyright, and (I'd argue) will continue to do so for the term
specified by law. They are (probably) more than capable of licensing
the work to another individual under another license.

It merely means that the author has abandoned the protection provided
to the author by the copyright statute in the US (and other applicable
law systems.)

Don Armstrong

I never until now realized that the primary job of any emoticon is to
say "excuse me, that didn't make any sense." ;-P  -- Cory Doctorow


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