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Re: New 'Public Domain' Licence

On 6/9/05, Humberto Massa Guimarães <humberto.massa@almg.gov.br> wrote:
> anyway, to take this thread back to the topic, I ask: is there
> anything that would be accomplished by a "public domain" license
> that is *not* accomplished by putting the work under the MIT
> license? I don't think so.
> And, if I am right, to avoid license proliferation and other
> undesired (and undesirable) interactions with various jurisdictions'
> laws, it seems to me that the best thing to do if you want to donate
> your work to the public would be putting it under the MIT license.

Actually, I think it's one of the worst.  As a unilateral, executory
grant, it's revocable at will under common law, leaving the recipient
with no license to the work.  (Even adding an explicit term,
"perpetual" or otherwise, wouldn't change this.)  Any privileges under
the grant that have already been exercised, including the right to
create various derivative works and to copy and distribute them, do
not suddenly get reversed; but the only theory under which any further
use may be made of them is equitable estoppel.

Like the post-termination right to "utilize" derivative works that
have already been "prepared", equitable estoppel (reliance to one's
detriment) might be stretched to cover further distribution and
possibly even bug fixes.  But it's unlikely to permit further
development of works substantially derived from the original, whether
or not they are already heavily modified by the time the grant is

IANAL, etc.; but if you want a license that lasts, you need an offer
of bilateral contract which isn't easily abrogated once accepted.  The
GPL, for instance.  Or the OpenSSL license, in which the art of the
"obnoxious advertising clause" is raised to a level at which honoring
it probably counts as return consideration.

- Michael

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