> And so, something like CC0 is more likely to accomplish the intended goal.

This is news to me. Up to now I thought simply a missing copyright notice automatically translates into public domain.

Then what would be the legal status of of the legacy public domain base?

For instance could I be held liable for modifying a public domain humor/joke and sharing that in a forum? Or modifying the lyrics of a folks song, etc.? There is an immense database of works without even a trace to their origins.

More to the point, there are sites to download so called public domain programs - huge collections of them. What are their status?

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