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From "Lawrence Rosen" <lro...@rosenlaw.com>
Subject RE: Public Domain Software
Date Sat, 05 Mar 2005 05:25:46 GMT
US government works (e.g., works authored by an employee of the US
government) are not subject to copyright in the US. They are in the public
domain and available to everyone for any purpose whatsoever. This is not the
same thing as a dedication by authors generally to the public domain. I'm
describing a statutory requirement that needs no license to be effective.
/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Phil Steitz [mailto:psteitz@apache.org]
> Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 6:55 PM
> To: legal-discuss@apache.org
> Subject: Re: Public Domain Software
> 
> Here is the most recent exchange that I have had with Bruce Miller from
> NIST, one of the authors of the "public domain" JAMA package that we
> want to incorporate code from in Jakarta Commons Math.  I need a
> recommendation on how to proceed.  I shared excerpts from the posts to
> this thread with Bruce and it looks like NIST and MathWorks are both
> sympathetic, but unwilling to attach "apache friendly licenses" to code
> that they view as in the public domain. Personally I see no real risk in
> here, but this is not my call to make. Thanks in advance.
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Phil Steitz wrote:
> 
>  > Thanks for the quick response!  See interspersed.
>  > Bruce Miller wrote:
> 
> [...]
> 
>  > Yes, as long as the copyright is essentially "given up" to public
> domain or a "friendly" license is attached.
>  >
>  >> (while Moler, of course, relied heavily on his past coding,
> including for Matlab...)
>  >>
>  >>
>  >> I'll happily run the question by my boss, Ron Boivert (also involved
> with JAMA),
>  >> but it would help if I understood the question myself, if not the
> answer :>
> 
> 
> Well, I ran the issue by Ron, and by Cleve Moler (at MathWorks),
> and others in the project.  Cleve doesn't want to add/change licenses
> because he'd have to get MathWorks lawyers involved, who are already
> swamped with other IP stuff...  All round, there seemed to be a "guess
> they'll just have to trust us" sentiment.
> 
> As a linux (&, apache, other OSS) user, following SCO and other
> developments, I am perhaps more sympathetic.  But, in the end, I guess
> I'm not that clear on where the holes in "public domain" are, and how
> to clarify them here.
> 
> Or in general: we (at nist) are generally supposed to release our
> work (assume solely NIST work for purpose of argument) as public
> domain --- our work is not subject to copyright.  IANAL, but
> my interpretation is that I then cannot even add any license (GPL or
> otherwise) to that software since I would seem to have to assert
> "ownership" before I can "grant" any rights.... Or?
> 
> Anyway, back to the subject at hand;  Can we just interpret "public
> domain"
> to mean what we usually think it means?
> 
> --
> --
> bruce.miller@nist.gov
> http://math.nist.gov/~BMiller/
> 
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