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From Marvin Humphrey <mar...@rectangular.com>
Subject [lucy-dev] NOTICE and public domain material
Date Sun, 20 Mar 2011 00:06:22 GMT
Greets,

Lucy bundles a text presentation of the US constitution as part of a sample
application.  The text files contain material which is entirely in the public
domain.  

At the time of the KinoSearch software grant, those .txt files were HTML
files, and arguably the presentation was copyrightable, though the material
was not.  Now, only index.html and uscon.css contain copyrightable material.
They have been given AL2.0 headers, while the .txt files have not and are now
excluded from the RAT report.

In LUCY-122 at <http://s.apache.org/B7c>, I pondered the following question:

  An HTML presentation of the US Constitution is used as sample data. Perhaps
  its public domain status must be noted in LICENSE?

Additionally, we expect to bundle the Lemon parser generator with Lucy soon,
which has been placed in the public domain by its author Richard Hipp.  We
need to decide whether Lemon's inclusion requires mods to LICENSE/NOTICE.

After trawling through the archives of legal-discuss@a.o, there seems to be
disagreement regarding how to handle public domain material.  However, I don't
think we can go wrong following Larry Rosen's reply to Henri Yandell, given
here:

  http://markmail.org/message/f7fwz75d423naugs

  > We can treat it in one of two ways I think:
  >
  > 1) View it as a license - add a note to notice and redistribute under public
  >    domain. 
  > 2) View it as AL 2.0 - ie) a grant made to us (and the rest of the
  >    world) that we then treat as our own source. 

  As with most things in law, this is largely a question of risk analysis.

  Honest public domain dedications by real people you know and trust are not
  the same as effective licenses but they pose VERY LOW RISK that the owner
  will revoke or later deny his dedication. On the other hand, without at
  least a copyright notice traceable to someone you believe to be real,
  perhaps you don't want to give such artifacts to your friends for business
  uses. Include all the provenance information in the Notice file. 

Therefore, with r1083338, I have added the following clause to NOTICE...

  This product bundles the text of the Constitution of the United States of 
  America, which is in the public domain.

... and when Lemon gets bundled I expect to add this to NOTICE:

  This product bundles the Lemon parser generator, which has been placed in
  the public domain.

When our 0.1.0-incubating release goes before the Incubator PMC, the NOTICE
file will be scrutinized and IPMC members will have the opportunity to object
to what they see.  I think including the notice on the Constitution text is
the right thing, but regardless, it is better to include it and give people a
chance to object to its presence than to exclude it and require people to
figure out that they should object to its absence.

The risk that bundling either the US Constitution or Lemon will result in a
copyright problem for Lucy is effectively zero, so perhaps this seems like
overkill.  However, by including these clauses in NOTICE, we account for all
IP within the Lucy release and give downstream consumers of the LICENSE and
NOTICE files all the information they might want or need.

Marvin Humphrey


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