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[Savannah-register-public] Re: [ #353765] Releasing a Savannah pr

From: Brett Smith via RT
Subject: [Savannah-register-public] Re: [ #353765] Releasing a Savannah project in the public domain
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:22:10 -0500


<URL: >

On Sun, 2008-01-20 at 06:19 -0500, Sylvain Beucler via RT wrote:
> I'm just looking for a non-ambiguous way to release code under the
> public domain. If the licensing team don't have that in stock, I'd
> recommend doing the same thing as SQLite, that is:
> - source code:
>   ** 2005 November 29
>   **
>   ** The author disclaims copyright to this source code.
> - patch/contribution notices (
>   The author or authors of this code dedicate any and all copyright
>   interest in this code to the public domain. We make this dedication
>   for the benefit of the public at large and to the detriment of our
>   heirs and successors. We intend this dedication to be an overt act
>   of relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights to
>   this code under copyright law.
> Wdyt?

It does cover a lot of bases, and I appreciate that, but I still see no
reason to recommend it above any other public domain notice.  I'm not
sure it makes legal sense to say you "dedicate any and all copyright
interest in this code to the public domain" -- the whole point of
putting something in the public domain is that you have no copyright
interest to dedicate anywhere.

I have been advised by a lawyer that putting stuff in the public domain
is more involved than most hackers think.  The same lawyer also
suggested we not worry about that too much, however: even if the author
did not properly or may not fully disclaim their copyright, the public
domain notice should serve as a license that has much the same effect.
As long as there are no contradictions in the notice, the intent is
certainly clear.

My suggestion to the Savannah maintainers is that you accept public
domain code, don't sweat the details of the legal notices too much
(although if they seem to be confused or contradictory, feel free to run
it by us), and recommend the Expat license for people who express
interest in the public domain but aren't sure about it.  A lot of
hackers seem to want the public domain option because it seems simple
and elegant.  It's becoming increasingly clear that the reality of it is
a lot more complicated.  The Expat license seems to provide the kind of
legal certainty we like to see for the least amount of effort.

If you have any more questions about this, please let me know.

Best regards,

Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer, Free Software Foundation

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