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Re: DEP5: Public domain works

On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 05:03:22PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
Charles Plessy <plessy@debian.org> writes:
Le Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 09:24:30AM -0500, Michael Terry a écrit :

The current situation means that public domain files are not likely to be recognizable in a machine-readable way.

This is a good point and I realise that the thread started in August by Colin Watson ended witout a conclusion.


Public domain is of course not a license, but you point at a potential benefit in using the License field to record that a work is in the public domain.

Perhaps the producers and consumers of that information could comment on whether they think is worth considering to modify the DEP at that stage.

I'm happy to see public domain added as a license keyword. (I'd rather the keyword be something like public-domain, not PD, but that's somewhat bikeshed painting.) I think the subsequent lines of the License field in that case should be the justification for why the file is in the public domain (US government work, out of copyright, what have you).

However, the caveat is that we maybe should say something about not using the public-domain keyword for things that aren't actually in the public domain but just have a license saying "this is in the public domain" or "you can treat this as if it's in the public domain," since in many countries that use Debian those works are *not* in the public domain.

Even better would be a link to some elaboration on what then to do about it, not just "a statement of Public Domain often doesn't mean that".

Do we have some best practice documentation regarding that? Do we simply treat such files as not having any particular licensing at all?

Here's how I currently treat PD in Debian packaging:

Copyright statement + "is in the Public Domain": DFSG-nonfree, because either a) it really is in the Public Domain and then cannot at the same time be upheld by a copyright, or b) is not really in the Public Domain and then lack a free license.

No copyright (but perhaps a "authorship notice" + "is in the Public Domain": DFSG-free, because either a) really is in Public Domain or b) isn't in Public Domain but noone claims copyright either so can be assumed to fall under any general copyright + license of surrounding project.

Any flaws in above?

If not, what is bad in marking as "PD" and leaving to others to investigate if it really is a True Public Domain or just a bogus upstream claim? I mean - aren't we generally trusting upstream statements?

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

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