> If you ever claimed to hold the copyright to software that has been
> released into the public domain, you would be commiting fraud.
Not if I'm the author of the software.
I can release my software under as many licenses as I'd like, including
putting it into the public domain.
However, I can't retroactively take away the rights of anyone who has
gotten my 'public domain' software.
That is all. I can release the exact same code under a zillion
different licenses, but once it's released, the people who have gotten
it can do whatever the license they received it under with the software,
and if that means 'public domain', that means they can do just about
anything with it.
However, *I* (as the original author) can release the software to
someone else, and if they aren't aware of the other (potentially more
liberally licensed) versions, they can be perfectly happy with the
software I've given them.
As the original author, you never lose your rights to the software,
unless you assign your rights away to another entity, who knows has the
same rights as you normally have. That means they can release it under
This is why folks can release software under both the GPL and BSD
licenses, and folks who work for the government must release it as PD,
and afterward someone takes that software and modifies it again, and the
modified version is licensed another way.
> If I have the only existing copy of some forgotten work by
> Shakespeare, I could sell it however I want under any terms I chose
> (licensing), but I cannot claim the copyright and be protected by
> copyright law above and beyond what I put in my license. If someone
> else finds a copy of it, I'm screwed.
Again, you aren't the author, or you have not been assigned the rights
by the original author (or whomever owned the copyright at the time).
However, most authors still have their original rights to do whatever
they please with their software, regardless of how they've released
their software in the past.
Back to the original question, Charles Mott is the original author of
said code, and he can release his software under any license he so
pleases. If someone has a copy of his software released under the PD
license, they are free to do with it as they please. However, he can
*also* release a version under the BSD license (which he has), and that
version is now being distributed by FreeBSD. This is all completely
free and legal, because Charles is within his legal rights to do so.
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