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From Colm MacCarthaigh <c...@stdlib.net>
Subject Releasing code to the public domain
Date Thu, 17 Nov 2005 01:14:49 GMT

Over at APR, we're building a repository of trivial, but good example
programs which use the APR (and apr-util, and so on). The aim is to
boost and aid apr adoption, by providing a very easy starting point for
building an APR application. 

As the programs are so trivial, and relatively obvious, it's been raised
as desirable that the code be as unencumbered as possible, and ideally
place zero obligations on adopters. 

It's desirable that implementors be able to take our examples, build
upon the work, release binaries if they want to and not even mention or
credit us in the least (though since they'll be using APR anyway, we'll
get that nod). To put this in context, it's the build environments which
are the tricky part, not the code itself.

To do this, we've just assigned the works as Public Domain. The repo is
currently at;

   http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/apr/examples/

and the dev@apr thread is at;

   http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/apr-dev/200511.mbox/%3c20051108214129.GA23245@stdlib.net%3e

Now, this all raises a few potential legal/policy issues, not least;

   1. The ASF repos have lots of public domain code in them that a
      casual search will find. But it's ASF policy to release software
      under ASL2. So, are we crossing a line here? Is it inapproriate
      for an ASF project to be producing non-ASL code? 

      If it's any help (although it probably makes it worse), we need
      never release. There may never me an apr examples tarball, it's
      just a subversion repository we can point people at.

   2. How do we go about putting code in the public domain?  I've
      temporarily just copied the Creative Commons PD certification and
      used that; 

      http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/apr/examples/trunk/LICENSE

      (this may be mis-applied) and in the code I copied the most
      pertinent information from the ASL into code headers like so;

      http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/apr/examples/trunk/helloworld/helloworld.c

   3. To further complicate matters, we'd like to use some ASL2 code in
      the build environment, and yet not taint the public domain'ness of
      the examples repo. APR has bundled autoconf macros, which we
      consider best practise to use. But these macros are ASLv2
      licensed.

      But the mere use of autoconf macros involves distribution in
      source form, which means that the ASL has to be complied with in
      regards to those files.

      If we apply a httpd-like workaround of providing a script which
      copies the macros from an APR tarball, does this insulate us from
      the ASL? (now there's a question that should never be asked
      here!).   

Are there better ways to go about this? 

-- 
Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key: colm+pgp@stdlib.net

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