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Unknown license bits and public domain

Hello -legal,

I'm in doubt for RC bug:

 1.2 debian/copyright: "This package has many utilities that are GPL
      or close to GPL code." "close to GPL"???
      "The original source code was published on the Net by a group of
      cypherpunks. I picked up a modified version from the news."
      Quite a license...

as found at [1]. http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=335278
(everything else is resolved)

The problem is that shc (shell compiler) [2] uses in its shc.c code with 
unknown license notice which had been posted by John L. Allen to a newgroup 
back in 21 May 1996 10:49:37 -0400 (as explained in the bug itself). 
Unfortunately John L Allen is unreachible to clarify the license terms of his 
piece of code [3].

Now, the question is: how long we should wait for nobody claim a copyright for 
the code to have it in Public Domain ? As explained in [4] an item may be 
public domain in one jurisdiction but not another, so we should take into 
account the United States law since the author is obviously American (used to 
work for Northrop Grumman Corporation). Btw, shc's upstream and package 
maintainer have been mailed out for clarificaiton but no reply has been 
received yet.

Will the package be removed in case of author of that RC implementation 
remains unreachible or if the Public Domain story is not applicable for the 
case. Any pointers of how to proceed from now on are welcome. 

[1] http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=335278
[2] http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/sources/
[3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2006/06/msg00551.html
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

pub 4096R/0E4BD0AB 2003-03-18 <people.fccf.net/danchev/key pgp.mit.edu>
fingerprint 1AE7 7C66 0A26 5BFF DF22 5D55 1C57 0C89 0E4B D0AB 

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