> : On that released version, yes. But, not on subsuquent versions. I
> : still maintain my rights to do with the code as I please.
> Then you are creating a new work, based on the public domain work that
> went before it.
I think we're splitting hairs here. Ultimately, the exact same behavior
occurs no matter whose interpretation is correct.
Say I (Nate) create a work. Let's go through the interpretation I've
heard, and see what happens, and then the interpretation others have
said, and see what happens.
Version 0.90 of the software has no copyright whatsoever, and I release
it to a couple of friends.
However, I spoke with a lawyer, and he tells me I'd better stick a
copyright on the front of my software, 'just in case'. However, the
code is no different from V0.9, so I release version 0.98, which has the
following header on all the source code.
V0.98 Copyright 2001 Nate, All Rights reserved.
At some point in time, I deem the code worthy of release, and I create
Version 1.0, whose *only* difference from V0.98 is the copyright line
has changed. This I give to some of the people who helped sponsor my
work, and I want them to do anything they want with it.
V1.0 FooBletch - This software is placed in the public domain, 8/2001
At the same time, I create Version 1.1, whose *only* difference from
0.98 is the copyright line(s). This I release on the Net.
V1.0 FooBletch - Copyright 2001 Nate
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
[ yadda, yadda, yadda ]
You get the picture.
As I've been told, this is completely legal. This means that a person
who receives V0.9 and 0.98 can't do much with my software, as they
essentially are the same thing. V0.98 is just more explicit about it.
The folks who get V1.0 can do *anything* they want with it (can they
legally claim authorship?), including release it on the net if they
like, and even copyright it.
We all know what rights the folks who get V1.1 have.
At this point, everything is legal, because V1.1 is either a derivation
of V1.0 or V0.98, and as the author I'm free to do whatever I want with
my code, including putting it into the public domain.
So, that's my explanation. Using Warner's (and others) explanation, the
following is what happens.
V0.9 and V0.98 are the same.
V1.0 is released into the public domain.
I (who have no additional rights) take 1.0, Copyright it, and release it
Ultimately, the same result as in my interpretation, as far as rights go
to all released copies of the software.
However, as I understand from the lawyers (not that I trust them much),
even the simple fact of modifying the files to change the copyright to
put it into the PD implies a 'derivative work', so therefore I still
have copyright status on the pre-PD version, and can do whatever I like
with it. All prior unreleased versions are copyrighted, with or without
Note, I understand that by releasing V1.0 into the public domain, I have
given up *ALL* my rights for the *exact* copy of the software released
into the public domain*.
But, I have not (necessarily) given up all my rights for any prior or
potentially subsequent derivations of said software, simple because I
still have rights on the prior copies and can derive future copies from
the past copies.
Does that makes sense? The only way to lose my rights completely is to
assign them to another entity (such as your employer), which most folks
do when they sign their employment agreement.
I think we're picking nits here, and ultimately it makes no difference
in the end results that are released.
> : > | 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
> : >
> : > Or you abandon those rights by releasing it into the Public Domain.
> : See above.
> But Andrew is right here. You lose your rights to it when you
> abandoned your copyright to place it in the public domain. Public
> Domain is a specific, legal term with legal consequences. It means
> you have no rights whatsoever to the work and others can do whatever
> they like with the work.,
> : > | 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.
> : >
> : > The Public Domain is not a license, it is an abandonment of copyright.
> : That's not how I understand it to be, from speaking with lawyers on it.
> Your understanding differs greatly from my understanding. And I've
> spoken to legal departments in many different companies, read many
> different articles on Copyright vs Public Domain, etc. I've been in
> charge of placing proper copyright notices in files, drafting such
> notice, etc.
> : > If you find a piece of code, without a license attached, then copyright
> : > law prevents you from copying, modifying or redistributing that code
> : > (or book, or music) without written permission.
> : I believe this is part of the Berne Convention, no? (And, it's not
> : necessarily agreed upon by *all* countries in the world, hence the
> : reason why certain companies explicity deny you to download software in
> : certain countries. I believe Libya is one...)
> Taiwan didn't agree to the Berne Convention either.. The reason that
> ocmpanies explicitly deny downloading software to certain countries is
> that the US has an embargo against those countries and the import of
> anything without an explicit license from the state department is
> : > The GPL was born because Stallman got burnt by releasing a version of
> : > emacs (I think) into the Public Domain.
> : I don't believe it was PD code. However, RMS never explicitly listed
> : the rights the users had, and another company took the software,
> : modified it, and started selling it as commercial software. RMS still
> : had the rights on his original software, but he couldn't 'go back' and
> : take away the rights he had granted in his initial release, so he
> : couldn't stop the company from making money on 'his work'.
> RMS's legal claims were murkey at best.
> : > I A company started selling it,
> : > and RMS had no claim to any of the monies, nor could he stop them from
> : > selling a binary only version of it (or selling it at all), nor could he
> : > force them to acknowledge it was written by him.
> : Actually, if I remember correctly, the company did acknowledge that he
> : wrote it, but that didn't help his cause. (I actually got a catalog
> : from the company in question, but I can't remember the name offhand).
> : He was free to re-use the same software, and release it under a
> : different license for use in EMACS. (I believe that EMACS still
> : contains some of the original LISP macros he initially developed, but
> : they are now under the GPL license.)
> Actually, if you read the history, you'll find that what happened was
> that Gosling released emacs. Stallman started hacking on it.
> Stallman got an email from Gosling granting him rights to distribute
> the derived work. Gosling then sold it to Unipress. Unipress went
> after Stallman for distributing their copyrighted code. Stallman
> couldn't find the email from Gosling conferring him these rights (his
> claim was that it was on a backup tape he couldn't read), so he had to
> abandon the work he did on Gosling emacs. He rewrote everything in
> what would become gnu emacs.
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