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Re: DEP-5 and public domain

Charles Plessy <plessy@debian.org> writes:

> Sure, the public domain is not a license, but I think that using ‘PD’ as
> a short name in the license field is not a declaration that we think
> that public domain is a license, but simply using a structured field to
> indicate why the work has no license. In addition, I have found works in
> the public domain that contain statements that are usually part of
> licenses (like warranty disclaimers or no-endorsment statements), and I
> tend to add them in the long description. This is something that would
> be more difficult to do without the License field.

It's probably worth noting here that if something purports to be in the
public domain but includes things like warranty disclaimers, the author
has misunderstood public domain.  If it's really public domain, there's no
way to add warranty disclaimers or no-endorsement statements.  If those
things have any legal force, then it's not actually public domain.

A lot of upstreams use the term "public domain" when they really mean
"permissive license," which is a very different thing legally.

Very, very little software is actually truly public domain.  US law, for
instance, makes it essentially impossible to place something in the public
domain via any mechanism other than dying and waiting 75 years (or
whatever it is now).

base-passwd is a rare exception since it probably doesn't contain anything
that's copyrightable (assuming you ignore the documentation, which is
almost certainly not actually public domain).  And even there, not
copyrightable is not quite the same thing as public domain.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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