Re: public domain
>however I can't find any good resources on how to relinquish copyright.
That's because under current US law there is no clear way to do so. *Please*
complain to your congressman. :-/
I believe under European law it is usually impossible as well. Check it out
and then complain to your parliament member. :-/
The various public domain dedications you will see vary in the degree to which
they add complicated verbiage to try to get around this problem. None of
them is perfect, because it's a serious legal problem, but Creative Commons's
does pretty well. (Branden Robinson's is *way* more thorough.) It includes
"in perpetuity", which is important, as the law's default for such things is
not in perpetuity. :-(
I have suggested coming up with a clear "as-if-public-domain" license which
would work in as many countries as we could manage. (Something like "I
release this work into the public domain. If that is legally impossible,
then I grant a perpetual, irrevocable license to everyone who does, did, or
will ever exist, to treat this work exactly as if it were in the public
domain due to expiration of copyright, and as if it were in the public domain
due to being ineligible for copyright.") Don't use that, by the way; I don't
want to encourage license proliferation. I do feel that current public
domain dedications are insufficient. Most people are OK with the MIT/X11
license though, so I haven't had much interest.
>> Dedicator makes this dedication for the benefit of the public at large and
>> the detriment of the Dedicator's heirs and successors.
>(the detriment part specifically as this seems to me as if it would make it
>possible for anybody except my heirs to use the docs)
No, that's not what it means. The trouble is that a court might rule,
otherwise, that you "couldn't really have meant to" deprive your heirs of
your copyrights by giving them to the public domain. This precludes that.
It is also an attempt to make the dedication binding on your heirs, who might
claim that public domain dedication is invalid and impossible; at least it
shows that they would be acting against your desires if they claimed that.
>Also, I don't want to be held responsible for ensuring that it's a benefit to
>the public, as somebody might e.g. find the word 'backup' offensive.
You don't have to ensure that the *work* is of benefit to the public.
Relinquishing exclusive monopoly rights (such as copyright) is presumably of
benefit to the public, no matter what they're rights in.