[aur-general] license convention for public domain packages

Paulo Matias matias at archlinux-br.org
Wed Jul 8 15:47:39 EDT 2009

On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 4:06 PM, Aaron Griffin<aaronmgriffin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Paulo Matias<matias at archlinux-br.org> wrote:
>> I'd not agree here. Isn't public domain exactly the absence of a
>> license? When something is public domain you have no obligations at
>> all. Even citing the author's name isn't required. You can do what you
>> want with a public domain work.
>> So I can't see why should we require to ship a different public domain
>> declaration for each public domain package. I think something like
>> 'none' or 'PD' without the obligation to install anything to
>> /usr/share/licenses would be the best way to go here.
> This is very very not true. There is no such thing as "public domain".
> Any code I write, without otherwise noting it, is copyrighted to me in
> the US and copying of it is not allowed under standard copyright laws
> unless I explicitly say otherwise. That's the funny thing - copyright
> actually protects the original author _by default_. Even more to the
> point, there is no way to willfully give up implicit rules such as
> this across the globe.
> Check out the FAQ here: http://sam.zoy.org/wtfpl/

Hm, really I didn't expressed correctly what I meant when I said
"absence of license". By that I meant the "absence of a document
detailing what you can do and what you can't do" (because there are no
imposed restrictions in the public domain work), not the "absence of a
declaration saying the work is public domain".

Said that, by reading the FAQ link I agree that, as not all
jurisdictions recognize public domain, including a /usr/share/licenses
file is really a good practice if the software's author writes
something like "If you are using SQLite in a jurisdiction that does
not recognize the public domain, [...]" (example from the sqlite3
package). So the user may know which license to follow if her
jurisdiction doesn't recognize the public domain.

But if the author wasn't cautious to write something like that, there
is nothing else to do. If the author only puts a declaration "this
work is in the public domain", all we would be able to do is to mark
the package as public domain. There is no license at all involved in
this case.

Best regards,

Paulo Matias

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