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In a copyright context, public domain is a term which means the set of creative works not under copyright, because the work's copyright has either expired, never existed (such as U.S. government works), or been forfeited1. Generally, no special restrictions apply to the reuse of public domain works, and they can be freely modified and redistributed without ...


39

With respect to my colleague planetmaker, public domain is not a US-specific concept. It dates back to the first copyright law in the world, Britain's 1710 Statute of Anne, where it was referred to as publici juris ("of public right"). French jurists further developed the idea and we see the term "fall into the public domain" entering the discussion in mid-...


31

The Public Domain in the US means the copyright of something is owned by nobody, and cannot be owned by anybody. Open source is a license model. The creator of the software holds the copyright, and grants others a license to use it, under some conditions. The differences are Ownership. When something is in the Public Domain, nobody has intellectual ...


20

I will give an example specifically for the jurisdiction that I am most familiar with, which is Germany. Germany doesn't have "copyright". We have "Urheberrecht" (literally translated "Originator's Right" or "Creator's Right", but usually translated as "Author's Right"). In German Author's Right, there is a notion of the work being somehow a "brain child" ...


13

TL;DR The safest way to signal your intent to give up all rights on your work currently is CC0 in most jurisdictions. The safest way to use works in the public domain is to still do it like moral rights apply, even if the copyright in your country doesn't know the concept. First of all, most jurisdictions have some concept that is more or less similar to ...


12

Copyright for old works expire at some point. In most countries that happens 70 years after authors death. Can I take a book with expired copyright (say Dickens Oliver Twist), [...] and release the result under an open license (let's say CC-BY-SA)? According to the Berne convention, works may pass into the public domain after life of author + 70 years (i.e....


12

The copyright on the combined work expires when the most recent part of the individual copyrights expires (in the US generally life + 70 years of the last author) and the project would enter the public domain. Older parts of the project enter the public domain before the newer parts, and with that, the combined work do. It's possible for a combined work to ...


12

The answer is actually pretty complicated. Public Domain isn't a thing everywhere This may be surprising, but in many jurisdictions, the concept of the public domain doesn't exist. Even for jurisdictions where it does exist, it varies. Some jurisdictions enforce the right to attribution, even for works in the public domain. Some governments might even ...


10

Bob can relicense it under any license he wishes. Taking credit for Alice's work is another thing. In jurisdictions that hold up moral rights, Bob can't. The moral rights cannot be given up by Alice, so they are still intact. What consists moral rights differs a bit, but proper attribution is usually included. In jurisdictions without moral rights, ...


9

The best option is to create a NOTICE (or perhaps NOTICE.txt or NOTICE.md) file in the root of your project code containing an introduction/summary, a list of copyright holders/project names and then all three license texts one after the other. And at the top of each source code file make sure you preserve the original copyright/license notice (optionally ...


9

You cannot license the work as a whole under CC0. You do not have the ability to commit other authors' work to the public domain or remove an author's requirement that distribution of their work includes attribution. You can release your own code under CC0, and include that code in a derivative work that also includes MIT/BSD-licensed code from other ...


8

Open source usually adds some restrictions. Common restrictions are the question of attribution of the original author, advertise with the software or relicense the software or modifications of it.


8

TL;DR Things like CC0, Unlicense and WTFL create unexpeced legal hazards in some jurisdictions. The MIT License does not really put anything in the public domain, but it the safest license to use if you want to offer your stuff with as few restrictions as possible in a world-wide setting. In the USA, CC0 can be used, but I do not recommend it for software. ...


8

You can never assume that the software that you receive is properly licensed. It is your responsibility to check that you are indeed allowed to use it under said license. Therefore if someone put someone else's code in the public domain without authorization, the public domain license would be void and you would be infringing the rights of the original ...


7

I agree with the conclusion in your linked SO answer: the GPLv2-licensed wsdl2h generates code that is licensed under GPLv2 also. Therefore you cannot use unlicense on the output. If you link said code with any other code, the whole program must also be GPLv2. Don't just take my, or the linked answer's, words for it. The gSOAP site says so itself (emphasis ...


7

According to the GPL FAQ the output of a GPL program is not licensed under the GNU GPL, unless it copies substantial parts of sourcecode into the output which are complex enough to fall under copyright: Q:In what cases is the output of a GPL program covered by the GPL too? A: Only when the program copies part of itself into the output.


7

I don't think CC0 has any shortcomings compared to Public Domain. After all, CC0 was created with the explicit goal of fixing shortcomings of the simple method of writing "this is released to the Public Domain". As far as I know, the main problem with the concept of "Public Domain" is that it has different implications in different jurisdictions. In ...


7

In theory, a computer program whose copyright expires enters the public domain, which is largely equivalent to an all-permissive free software license without attribution, such as the WTFPL. But in practice, copyright in a computer program created since "free software" became a thing is unlikely to ever expire in most of the industrialized world, for reasons ...


7

Firstly, no it's not invalid at all. It's always valid to dual or multi license a product under many licenses, even completely contradictory licenses. When you dual license something the recipients get to choose which license they will accept the work under. They only choose one, so it doesn't matter if another license would give them contradictory rights. ...


7

I think "illegal" is not quite the right word (but it was in a quick parenthetical, so I don't expect perfect precision). I think the intent here was that SQLite not legally safe to use in Germany, since the original copyright holders have not correctly given rights to downstream recipients according to German law. If SQLite contributor Alice "went rogue," ...


7

This is explained in the CC0 license itself under "The Problem": Few if any jurisdictions have a process for [contributing their works for public use before applicable copyright or database protection terms expire] easily and reliably. https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/ Basically, some jurisdictions don't recognize the ...


6

When the copyright of a certain work expires, it is released into the public domain. Hence, anybody can use it. There's no restrictions to it. For example, I can take one of Beethoven's music compositions, change it up, and then make it mine. With copyright. Essentially, you can take any content that is in the public domain, and you can do anything that you ...


6

The GPL has a clause that if any component of the project is licensed under the GPL, the entire project must be licensed under the GPL. This is where license compatibility comes in to the picture. In your case, there are no clauses in the licenses of your components that forbid distributing the software under "mixed" licenses. You can release your product ...


6

In the provided link, there are two statements regarding copyright: A derived work of a work in the public domain is itself not in the public domain. A display of public domain artwork is itself protected by intellectual property rights. The second statement is not relevant to software. The first statement is actually not that special and is a ...


5

The CC0 license is essentially a public domain dedication. Looking at the license deed, it does not depend on jurisdictions, as it waives all rights normally provided under the copyright law by the legal authorities of the jurisdiction. Bob can take Alice's work freely, but Alice will still retain any moral rights that is entitled to her. You don't legally ...


5

Short answer: You can do what you want. If you are the original author of a work, you have the right to do anything with it[1]. Whether you gave it away under some license before doesn't matter. You can release it under a different license, if you want to, whether you modify it or not. If you released it under some "cannot sell" license you could still ...


5

This depends widely on what is losing its copyright. But no matter what it is put into, people call the Public Domain. The public domain is just a fancy way of saying "it is now available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright". If the project was already open sourced basically nothing changes, except for whatever license was on ...


5

Public domain implies that the author waives all rights, possibly including personal rights. This is not necessarily applicable to open-source (though it can be) - open-source software can be licensed, which removes it from public domain. Open source software can also be explicitly declared as public domain (which, technically, is a requirement to be ...


5

instead of simply releasing the code into the public domain In addition to Zizouz212's great answer let me add that there is no way to "simply release code in the public domain". When you put some code in a public repo on GitHub for instance, you do not give many rights to the people who find the code because copyright applies. To put some code in the ...


5

The Wikipedia article you linked to notes: While Kopimi may appear to be a radical free content license, in effect similar to Creative Commons Zero, no one associated with PiratbyrÄn ever called Kopimi a license, instead describing it as a symbol of certain ideas. The website of Kopimi contains no terms or legal text. The Open Source Initiative, Free ...


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