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Re: Sapphire.cpp -- Gpl compatible? DFSG-free?

On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 10:52:44AM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> Andrew Donnellan <ajdlinux@gmail.com> writes:

> > Well, it's public domain, so there's no restrictions on it and it
> > should be fine. (Although there is some debate going on about whether
> > it's in fact possible to disclaim copyright in some jurisdictions, but
> > I highly doubt the author will try to enforce anything.)

> This is no guarantee against the author later realising they still hold
> copyright, changing their mind on their generosity, and enforcing their
> copyright on those who have violated that copyright.

> More significantly, it is no guarantee against *some other party* later
> realising they have (by whatever means) obtained the original author's
> copyrights, and deciding to enforce them. In other words, this
> assumption fails the “Tentacles of Evil” test.

Wow.  Please stop pretending that you have any clue at all what you're
talking about.

Andrew, public domain dedications have always been fine for Debian and taken
at face value, provided that:

- the author's intent is unambiguous (i.e., there isn't a statement "this
  work is in the Public Domain" followed immediately by a license that
  attempts to restrict use of the work), and
- the author lives in a jurisdiction where the principles of the public
  domain, and public domain dedications, are recognized, even if it's not
  clear under present law how a public domain dedication can be made.

This basically means that public domain dedications are ok if the author is
in the US, questionable in most other jurisdictions where we would need
clarification from someone familiar with the legal systems, and known to be
insufficient in Germany.

Even in cases where public domain is considered ok for Debian, it's
preferable (and IMHO, better meets the goals of anyone wishing to place
their work in the PD) that the author also include an explicit, liberal
license with an explanation that this is done in case the PD dedication is
not recognized as valid.

The Creative Commons "CC0" license is an effective way to do this:


Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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