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Re: public domain

Glenn Maynard wrote:
> Huh?  I've never heard of this.  I've only heard of problems with the
> public domain in other jurisdictions (Germany?), not in the US.

In pre-BCIA (1989) US law, copyright was surrendered by deliberately 
publishing without a copyright notice.  This was pretty much the standard 
method, and I am not aware of any other method being sanctioned by the courts 
or the law.

Since 1989 that method has simply not been available, since copyright is fully 
automatic.  I am not aware of any court case since 1989 which established the 
ability to deliberately place a work in the public domain by any other 
method.  (For such a case to actually arise would either require an author 
who reneged, or more likely an author who died and whose heirs reneged, so 
it's not actually surprising that one hasn't shown up in a mere 15 years.)  
Although I'm not the best at legal research -- if you are aware of one, 
please tell us!  Such a case would give some very good hints as to how to 
write a public domain dedication so that it would hold up in court.

The worry is that "public domain dedications" may only have the effect of 
highly permissive license grants in the US, and may therefore not actually 
provide the full benefits of public domain status in one or more ways; 
including possible unlilateral license revocation by the grantor or heirs 
(since such a license would probably not qualify legally as a contract).

So write your congressman and ask that authors be given a clear method to put 
their works in the public domain, rendering them free from copyright forever.

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