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Concerns about works created by the US government

[Please Cc: me when replying]


Generally for free software (and most other purposes) it seems that
works created by the US government are usually considered (sometimes
"effectively") to be in the public domain. I however have some
concerns about this.

The relevant US law says (title 17, chapter 1, § 105):

   Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work
   of the United States Government, but the United States Government
   is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred
   to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

This certainly seems to make the works effectively PD in the US;
however it almost seems as if that was carefully worded to _not_ place
works in the PD, only to make the US government unable to enforce
their copyright under the US law.

What I think it does NOT do is forbid the US government from enforcing
their copyright in any foreign jurisdiction. I think this is just
about the only imaginable reason why the title does not say "Any work
of the US government is public domain" instead.

I think that for an international project this might be a problem, at
least in theory. I agree that the Debian project possibly cannot take
into account all laws in all countries; however I think this is
potentially a major issue since it probably would affect any other
country under the Berne convention.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though, and that's why I'm writing
here :)


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