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Re: [POLITICS] Re: When is the Last Time You Booted to Windows?




On 2006.2.21, at 11:47 PM, Mike McCarty wrote:

Eh? GPL restricts redistribution.
Only conditionally. Putting something under public domain means that
people can take that software and republish it under proprietary terms.

No, it does not. Something which is placed into the public domain is
public.

In what sense?

 It does not allow anyone to take ownership of it.

Unfortunately, this is not quite true.

The wheel
is, for example, public domain.

Well, the idea of a wheel is.

 It cannot be patented.

It cannot be patented because it is obvious, not because previous patents have lapsed into the public domain. I'm not sure why I'm pointing this out, except to emphasize the necessity of being precise.

 Likewise,
something which is public domain cannot be copyright,

But the performance, expression, and even the reprinting in a different layout of something which is in the public domain can, indeed, be placed under copyright.

 nor can it be
trade secret. It can be sold, but it cannot be owned.

I have a piece of software which I placed in the public domain. Or, rather, I used to have it. I still have copies of it lying around. But it is not mine. If someone were to claim copyright on it, I would have to fight his claims as a member of the public receiving damage, not as the owner. If I were to try to put my copyright back on it, said someone could fight my claims on exactly the same standing.

This particular piece of software was a fairly close translation from one assembly language and run-time architecture to another of another item of PD software. If the original had been licensed under a BSD class license, I'd have legally been required to specify the derivation, and it would have been under two copyrights. But it was PD, so the only reason I had to even acknowledge that it was derived was that I know that you get what you give. I could easily have claimed copyright, and, if I had chosen to abuse my claim, I could have caused trouble for other implementors in courts, just because suits are expensive.

So, yeah, in an ideal sense, you're right. Public Domain can't be legally be claimed by someone else. In a practical sense, it is not protected from such claims to the same degree as copyrighted works are.

I've got to hit the hay, or I'm going to catch your cold.


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