* Rhash Admin<email@example.com> [110613 14:58]:
so here are the questions:
1) does the above "public domain" statement contradicts with being
covering by license?
2) shall the above statement be re-worded/removed (in upstream
sources) to avoid adding "public domain" statement to the (already
complex) debian/copyright file?
Those things easily end in definition wars. For any single jurisdiction
ask a lawyer, the general picture is something like this:
- "public domain" in the strictest sense are thing that have no
copyright, i.e. usually because they lost it many years after the
author's death or some other restriction in copyright law.
As this is about the copyright law, this "public domain" status of
one single work can often vary in different countries (like if the
author is dead long enough for one country but not the other, or
if it is written by a US goverment employee and thus public domain
in the United States, and so on).
- Some jurisdiction are said to also allow people to place their works
directly into this state (I don't know if such exist, never looked).
In other jurisdictions common sense says placing something into the
public domain means giving everyone a maximal permissive license.
- Any sane jurisdiction will not care for the exact words you use, but
what meaning your words express. If someone says that they place the
software in the public domain and in the same breath add contradicting
statements meaning the opposite and thus making it clear they did not
understand what it means, there is some chance a judge somewhere on
the world will rule in their favor.
- People like to weasel out of their words, so the clearer the better.
Then noone has to fear a "We said 'modify or distribute', but we never
allowed the distribution of modified versions".
- Good code (and sometimes also not so good code) tends to hike and
hitch-hike over time. As people copying code usually only look at
the one file they take the code from, it can make life much easier
for everyone involved in the future if every file has information
about the author and the license/permissions.
I want to consult about legality of the following statement in the
rhash package source files:
* I, the author, hereby place this code into the public domain.
* This applies worldwide. I grant any entity the right to use this
* ANY PURPOSE, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required
* by law.
Some things about this: copyleft usually does not mean permissive
licensing, but a license restrictive in the sense that it enforces
some minimum level of permissiveness. So combining "copyleft" with
the rest is the biggest contradiction here.
The line about public domain looks good. Note that as public domain
has some special meaning, it might not make sense in some countries
when limiting the meaning of words, but I personally think there is
nothing bad about that.
"the right to use this work" might also be used if it only means
"right to run the software", so some "use, modify, copy and/or
distribute" would be more explicit in an important aspect.
The "unless such conditions are required by law" is ugly. I never
understood what it shall mean. If the law has conditions then it is
the job of the law to enforce it. What shall it protect against?
I doubt any country can be so twisted that some "You said he may
do anything with the text, and he cut out all the letters and rearranged
them to be an order for a killer. This is your fault because you allowed
him to use your text." is possible. On the other hand it can only open
cans of worms for people e.g. switching between oppressive and free
The (upstream) source code is covered by "MIT or RHash dual license"
( http://rhash.anz.ru/license.php?l=en ).
Do I understand correctly that you are upstream? Is all of the code
written by you.
Is all of the code by you? and your tarballs only contain the 'RHash'
license in COPYING and the 'MIT' one is only on the website (and in
debian/control)? That looks a bit confusing (Having 'Alexey S Kravchenko'
and 'Alexei Kravchenko' in there even more).
I think the easiest, clearest and most helpful thing you can do
that most likely expresses what you want is the following:
Add to every .c file the Copyright from your debian/copyright
followed by your 'RHash license', i.e. the 10 lines in your COPYING,
i.e. something like:
* Copyright: 2011 Alexey S Kravchenko<firstname.lastname@example.org>
* Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
* of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
* in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
* to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
* copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
* furnished to do so.
* This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT
* ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS
* FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Use this program at your own risk!
(Of course only do so if the code is all by you. If anyone else has rights in
that, do not forget to get their permission and state the licenses they gave
This has the advantage that it is not that long, contains all the information
in the files themselves so any hitch-hicking code will most likely take it
with it. As it is the grant itself, there is no difference between the grant
and the hint on it, thus no confusion can arrise. And is in a form everyone
knows and thus is comfortable handling.
(As the license you name 'MIT' has exactly the same permission grant, only
one additional restriction, I not see what sense offering both makes.)
Having the "Copyright YEAR NAME<EMAIL>" form is most likely simply some
form of folklore. Debian prefers that folklore in debian/copyright,
so might others, thus having it in the files makes it easier for people
(and some people might grep for Copyright but not for "written by".)
Bernhard R. Link
 There might be one or two obscure countries left in the world where
it is needed for copyright protection and in some other countries
it might make some difference in money paid in some cases, so ...