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Re: DEP5: Public domain works

* Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> [110119 02:03]:
> 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.

Is there anything that actually is in the public domain in such a strict
sense. As I can see there are:

1) public domain by death of author long ago. Might be applicable to
   some data sets, but I doubt any software is in this category.

2) public domain by not being copyrightable. Legislations differ, so it
   is hard to say if something is not copyrightable anywhere. And once
   it is enough stuff to fill a whole package, I see not much chance
   that it actually has no copyright attached to it.

3) public domain in some domains only. For example works made by US
   goverment employees. Those are public domain in the US, but you will
   need a license elsewhere.

4) public domain by author waiving all rights i.e. ("this is hereby public
   domain"). This might be possible in some countries directly. In
   others it will just be a maximal permissive license. I see no reason
   to differentiate between those two. (Statements are about meaning,
   not about words).

Note that 4) is the only public domain that is in my eyes enough for
Debian to treat it like an free license. So if that is not applicable,
then having a keyword "public domain" does not make much sense.

	Bernhard R. Link

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