philosophy behind public domain?

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philosophy behind public domain?

Chad Whitacre
Hello,

I am interested in the reasoning behind SQLite's dedication to the
public domain vis-a-vis other copyright/licensing options (GPL, BSD,
etc.) Is there any documentation available on this decision?

Furthermore, are there any groups or websites advocating for dedications
of software to the public domain who could provide information in general?

Specifically, are there other major software packages that have been
dedicated to the public domain?

I'm trying to form an opinion on software copyright/licensing issues and
would appreciate any thoughts or leads. Thanks.



chad
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Darren Duncan
At 1:39 PM -0400 5/25/05, Chad Whitacre wrote:
>I am interested in the reasoning behind SQLite's dedication to the
>public domain vis-a-vis other copyright/licensing options (GPL, BSD,
>etc.) Is there any documentation available on this decision?
>
>I'm trying to form an opinion on software copyright/licensing issues and
>would appreciate any thoughts or leads. Thanks.

I'm wondering the same thing.

Moreover, in a discussion about open source software licenses I was
part of a few weeks ago, it was brought up that making a work public
domain was a very bad thing to do, because it opened up the author to
a whole bunch of legal liability that they had no recourse from,
which they wouldn't have if they retained their copyright but used a
permissive license.  I think the gist was that the software couldn't
have a disclaimer of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone
could sue the author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't
know how true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in
the answer.

-- Darren Duncan
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

D. Richard Hipp
In reply to this post by Chad Whitacre
On Wed, 2005-05-25 at 13:39 -0400, Chad Whitacre wrote:
> I am interested in the reasoning behind SQLite's dedication to the
> public domain vis-a-vis other copyright/licensing options (GPL, BSD,
> etc.) Is there any documentation available on this decision?

GPL and LGPL are too restrictive for SQLite because applications
generally want to be able to statically link against SQLite without
inheriting the GPL license requirements.  BSD retains copyright in
technicality, but doesn't really retain any real rights - so what's
the point?  Public domain just seemed the easiest way to go.

>
> Furthermore, are there any groups or websites advocating for dedications
> of software to the public domain who could provide information in general?
>

http://www.creativecommons.org/
I'm sure you can find more on Google.

> Specifically, are there other major software packages that have been
> dedicated to the public domain?

http://freshmeat.net/browse/197/ lists 521 software projects that claim
to be "public domain", though many of them are misusing the term.  But
there are still many famous packages that are PD.  The first page lists
NTP and Expect in addition to SQLite.

See also http://libtomcrypt.org/

--
D. Richard Hipp <[hidden email]>

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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Will Leshner
In reply to this post by Darren Duncan

On May 25, 2005, at 11:36 AM, Darren Duncan wrote:

> I think the gist was that the software couldn't have a disclaimer  
> of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone could sue the  
> author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't know how  
> true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in the answer.

I believe I have heard something like that as well.
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

D. Richard Hipp
On Wed, 2005-05-25 at 11:43 -0700, Will Leshner wrote:
> On May 25, 2005, at 11:36 AM, Darren Duncan wrote:
>
> > I think the gist was that the software couldn't have a disclaimer  
> > of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone could sue the  
> > author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't know how  
> > true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in the answer.
>
> I believe I have heard something like that as well.
>

Sounds like a folk legend to me.
--
D. Richard Hipp <[hidden email]>

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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Will Leshner

On May 25, 2005, at 11:43 AM, D. Richard Hipp wrote:

> Sounds like a folk legend to me

Most likely :)
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Jay Sprenkle
In reply to this post by Chad Whitacre
> Moreover, in a discussion about open source software licenses I was
> part of a few weeks ago, it was brought up that making a work public
> domain was a very bad thing to do, because it opened up the author to
> a whole bunch of legal liability that they had no recourse from,
> which they wouldn't have if they retained their copyright but used a
> permissive license.  I think the gist was that the software couldn't
> have a disclaimer of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone
> could sue the author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't
> know how true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in
> the answer.

This sounds like FUD to me. How can you be held responsible for something
which you have no control over and no knowledge of? IANAL but I think
you need to prove intent or negligence and you'd have a really rough
time proving either one. Well, you might be able to argue intent if you
released virus source ;)
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Chad Whitacre
In reply to this post by D. Richard Hipp
Richard,

Thanks for the reply.


> GPL and LGPL are too restrictive for SQLite because applications
> generally want to be able to statically link against SQLite without
> inheriting the GPL license requirements.  BSD retains copyright in
> technicality, but doesn't really retain any real rights - so what's
> the point?  Public domain just seemed the easiest way to go.

So it sounds like the PD decision was mostly path-of-least-resistance,
given the use case. Fair enough. Has this worked out well for SQLite?
Would you recommend dedications to the public domain?


> http://www.creativecommons.org/

I'm not sure I would call them an "advocate" for the public domain,
although they provide for dedications to it. I see them advocating for
everything in between (pd) and (c).


> I'm sure you can find more on Google.

Ok, then I'm either searching wrong or there's nothing to find. :-)

I guess I'm casting about for a public domain equivalent of the FSF, so
the latter is probably the case.


> http://freshmeat.net/browse/197/ lists 521 software projects that claim
> to be "public domain"  ...

Helpful pointers, thanks.




chad
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Doug Henry
In reply to this post by D. Richard Hipp
I think you need to look at the goals of the licenses, and not focus on what
is needed to comply, if your interested in why to choose one. The GPL is
suggested (by GNU) if you have an open source product that is highly unique,
because it will attract users and if used, will force more GPL'd software to
be produced (insert snowball effect here). The LGPL is suggested (again by
GNU) if you have a library that already exists in other domains (not highly
unique), or you wish to allow for closed source usage. The LGPL ensures that
your library cannot be used as a starting point for some really cool
extension, without getting some benefit back. Basically your entitled to any
changes someone makes to YOUR library. Not sure what the intent behind the
BSD license was. Public domain is a gift to the world. If you don't care
that someone might extend your product without giving you the changes, it it
the easiest and most "consumer friendly" way of doing it.


On 5/25/05, D. Richard Hipp <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Wed, 2005-05-25 at 13:39 -0400, Chad Whitacre wrote:
> > I am interested in the reasoning behind SQLite's dedication to the
> > public domain vis-a-vis other copyright/licensing options (GPL, BSD,
> > etc.) Is there any documentation available on this decision?
>
> GPL and LGPL are too restrictive for SQLite because applications
> generally want to be able to statically link against SQLite without
> inheriting the GPL license requirements. BSD retains copyright in
> technicality, but doesn't really retain any real rights - so what's
> the point? Public domain just seemed the easiest way to go.
>
> >
> > Furthermore, are there any groups or websites advocating for dedications
> > of software to the public domain who could provide information in
> general?
> >
>
> http://www.creativecommons.org/
> I'm sure you can find more on Google.
>
> > Specifically, are there other major software packages that have been
> > dedicated to the public domain?
>
> http://freshmeat.net/browse/197/ lists 521 software projects that claim
> to be "public domain", though many of them are misusing the term. But
> there are still many famous packages that are PD. The first page lists
> NTP and Expect in addition to SQLite.
>
> See also http://libtomcrypt.org/
>
> --
> D. Richard Hipp <[hidden email]>
>
>
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Peter Lau
On May 25, 2005, at 3:27 PM, Doug Henry wrote:

> I think you need to look at the goals of the licenses, and not focus
> on what
> is needed to comply, if your interested in why to choose one. The GPL
> is
> suggested (by GNU) if you have an open source product that is highly
> unique,
> because it will attract users and if used, will force more GPL'd
> software to
> be produced (insert snowball effect here). The LGPL is suggested
> (again by
> GNU) if you have a library that already exists in other domains (not
> highly
> unique), or you wish to allow for closed source usage. The LGPL
> ensures that
> your library cannot be used as a starting point for some really cool
> extension, without getting some benefit back. Basically your entitled
> to any
> changes someone makes to YOUR library. Not sure what the intent behind
> the
> BSD license was. Public domain is a gift to the world. If you don't
> care
> that someone might extend your product without giving you the changes,
> it it
> the easiest and most "consumer friendly" way of doing it.

BSD license simply stated that you have to acknowledge the portion
that's under the BSD license explicitly and put their copyright
statement somewhere... and the BSD pieces are not responsible for
anything... you can use it in any way you like... commercial or not...
$$$ or not.

pete


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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen
In reply to this post by Jay Sprenkle
Jay Sprenkle wrote:

>>Moreover, in a discussion about open source software licenses I was
>>part of a few weeks ago, it was brought up that making a work public
>>domain was a very bad thing to do, because it opened up the author to
>>a whole bunch of legal liability that they had no recourse from,
>>which they wouldn't have if they retained their copyright but used a
>>permissive license.  I think the gist was that the software couldn't
>>have a disclaimer of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone
>>could sue the author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't
>>know how true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in
>>the answer.
>>    
>>
>
>This sounds like FUD to me. How can you be held responsible for something
>which you have no control over and no knowledge of? IANAL but I think
>you need to prove intent or negligence and you'd have a really rough
>time proving either one. Well, you might be able to argue intent if you
>released virus source ;)
>  
>

Lawrence Rosen has been the general counsel for the Open Source
Initiative, and he specializes in technology and computer law according
to his website:

http://www.rosenlaw.com/

He has written the following piece about Public Domain in which he
explains that you could in fact open up yourself to liability if you
"put software into the public domain" by giving it away.

http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/6225

Furthermore, he claims that there is no law which allows anyone except
the US Government to put anything into the Public Domain; Something only
passes into the Public Domain when it "grows old and its copyright
expires", except when it is published by the US Government.  Thus he
claims that "putting software into the public domain" is an illusion.

Dr. Edward Samuels, who was a respected professor at the New York School
of Law, had an article in Journal of the Copyright Socity, Volume 137
(1993) which is available online:

http://www.edwardsamuels.com/copyright/beyond/articles/public.html#h3b2b

Professor Samuels found back then that it was not a simple matter
whether anyone could put anything into the public domain at all after
the ratification of the Berne Convention in 1989, and the way I read his
article, he seemed to think it was/is not possible.

More information can be found in Professor Samuels' book on copyright,
"The illustrated story of Copyright":

http://www.edwardsamuels.com/illustratedstory/index.htm

However, the Creative Commons site has a Public Domain "license" which
includes the option of dedicating something to the Public Domain by an
overt act of relinquishment of copyright and other rights:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

I notice a distinct similarity between the language used in that
dedication and the language required by Dr. Hipp when others contribute
to SQLite.

http://www.sqlite.org/copyright.html

If Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford, thinks you can dedicate
something to the Public Domain, then you probably can.  However, the
licenses on the Creative Commons site are not intended for software, as
their FAQ states:

http://creativecommons.org/faq

The creative commons site also has a lot of links to articles and other
information about the Public Domain:

http://creativecommons.org/about/legal/


In any case, the law scholars and lawyers are divided on this issue.

HTH

Ulrik Petersen

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer.  This mail does not constitute legal
advice.  You should hire an attorney if you need legal counsel.

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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen
In reply to this post by Chad Whitacre

Chad Whitacre wrote:

>> http://www.creativecommons.org/
>
>
> I'm not sure I would call them an "advocate" for the public domain,
> although they provide for dedications to it. I see them advocating for
> everything in between (pd) and (c).

There is also the "Center for the Public Domain":

http://www.centerpd.org/



>
>
>> I'm sure you can find more on Google.
>
>
> Ok, then I'm either searching wrong or there's nothing to find. :-)

There is lots to find.  For starters, you can try these searches:

Lessig "Public Domain"
Lawrence Rosen "Public Domain"

Ulrik Petersen
I am not a lawyer.


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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen
In reply to this post by Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen
Responding to myself after some more Googling:

Ulrik Petersen wrote:

> If Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford, thinks you can dedicate
> something to the Public Domain, then you probably can.

An article is available at Linuxworld where Prof. Lessig says in
(almost) so many words that you can dedicate software to the public domain:

http://linux.sys-con.com/read/38116.htm?CFID=176814

 From the article (talking about software):

"It is therefore perfectly permissible for the owner of a copyright to
do nothing with it. And it would be perfectly permissible for the owner
of a copyright to give it away -- to dedicate it to the public domain.
(And if you'd like to do that, Creative Commons
<http://creativecommons.org/license/publicdomain-2> will help)."

Ulrik Petersen
I am not a lawyer.

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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Kurt Welgehausen
In reply to this post by D. Richard Hipp
> > > I think the gist was that the software couldn't have a disclaimer  
> > > of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone could sue the  
> > > author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't know how  
> > > true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in the answer.
> >
> > I believe I have heard something like that as well.
> >
>
> Sounds like a folk legend to me.

The idea is that there's no quid pro quo, and therefore
no contract, when you place something in the public
domain. If you have a license, you can require the user
to accept the software as-is in return your letting him
use it, and by using the software he implicitly accepts
the terms of the contract. Some lawyers apparently think
that using PD software does not imply acceptance of any
attached disclaimer. This was discussed briefly in an
article on licenses in Linux Journal some months ago.

On the other hand, I've never heard of any problem in
this regard. The Icon programming language (which is
under appreciated and under used) has been in the public
domain for 20 or 30 years, and I don't think they've
ever had such a problem, in spite of a buggy release or
two.

Regards
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Henry Miller
In reply to this post by Darren Duncan

On 5/25/2005 at 11:36 Darren Duncan wrote:

>Moreover, in a discussion about open source software licenses I was
>part of a few weeks ago, it was brought up that making a work public
>domain was a very bad thing to do, because it opened up the author to
>a whole bunch of legal liability that they had no recourse from,
>which they wouldn't have if they retained their copyright but used a
>permissive license.  I think the gist was that the software couldn't
>have a disclaimer of liability if it is public domain, and so anyone
>could sue the author if something went wrong when using it.  I don't
>know how true this is or not, but would like to see it addressed in
>the answer.

Courts can hold any part of a contract valid they want to.   Courts
have struck down disclaimers of liability in several cases,
particularly in cases where the product causes loss of life and the
licenser (creator) should have known it could happen.  If you die
bungee jumping and it is discovered the rope was beyond the rated end
of life the disclaimer of liability will not protect them.  If the rope
was new it would protect them.   (See a lawyer for how this applies to
your case)

Generally you liability is limited based on what was paid.   If you pay
a lot of money for something the court is likely to conclude that you
expected that value from it.  When you get something from the public
domain the courts are likely to conclude that you got what you paid for
- in fact you could be liable for using public domain software that
fails, instead of the creator of the software.

Only a court can say what will happen, and then only after examining
the case.  Only a lawyer can give you specific advice.



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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Darren Duncan
In reply to this post by Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen
At 9:57 PM +0200 5/25/05, Ulrik Petersen wrote:
>Lawrence Rosen has been the general counsel for the Open Source
>Initiative, and he specializes in technology and computer law
>according to his website:
<snip>

Thanks for all the responses.

And some of them such as the above show that I didn't pull my legal
concern out of thin air; there was a significant background to it,
even if it is an issue over which experts are divided.

Not FUD at all, in the malicious sense of the word anyway.

-- Darren Duncan
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how to list table making a view

Noel Frankinet
Hello,

Is there a better way to list all table making a view than parsing SQL.
Is there an API ?
I would like to show all table in a view (in a tree-view gadget).
Same question for the table schema, I do parse the SQL but its rather
fragile.
I'm still in 2.8

Thank you.

--
No?l Frankinet
Gistek Software SA
http://www.gistek.net

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RE: how to list table making a view

Hans Bieshaar
Noël Frankinet wrote:

  >Is there a better way to list all table making a view than parsing SQL.
  >Is there an API ?
  >I would like to show all table in a view (in a tree-view gadget).
  >Same question for the table schema, I do parse the SQL but its rather
  >fragile.

I am having a bit of difficulty understanding your question, but get the
impression your parsing the DDL that created the table. If I am right you
will want to look at the PRAGMA statements to query the database schema.

        Kind regards
        Hans

--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.322 / Virus Database: 266.11.17 - Release Date: 5/25/2005
 

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Re: how to list table making a view

Peter Hermsdorf
In reply to this post by Noel Frankinet
are you looking for something like

select * from sqlite_master;

?
bye, peter

Noel Frankinet wrote:

> Hello,
>
> Is there a better way to list all table making a view than parsing SQL.
> Is there an API ?
> I would like to show all table in a view (in a tree-view gadget).
> Same question for the table schema, I do parse the SQL but its rather
> fragile.
> I'm still in 2.8
>
> Thank you.
>
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Re: philosophy behind public domain?

Florian Weimer
In reply to this post by D. Richard Hipp
* D. Richard Hipp:

> Public domain just seemed the easiest way to go.

It is, until you want to incorporate a contribution from someone who
can't give up his copyrught in a binding way.  How do you handle
contributions from Europe, especially Germany?  Or hasn't that
happened yet?
123