Public Domain re-worked and re-released under GNU Public Licence?

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Russell McOrmond

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Feb 10, 1992, 8:53:00 PM2/10/92
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I have an interesting question (If it's a FAQ, please just let me know -).
There is a program that I'd like to work on and make a derivative of that
is currently released into the public domain. The work that I do, once it
is complete, I would rather make available to people in a way that future
work will also be made available, and that a Commercial author could not
include it in their package and never make their work available to the
public (Keep that Wheel a turning).

Is it possible to re-release something previously released as
'Public Domain' and add what is to some seen as the 'restrictions' of
the GNU Public Licence? What are the alternatives (Other than the
obvious one which is to keep it 'PD', something I'd rather not do as I
like to keep things going - There are already many derivatives of this PD
work that are restricted distribution, part of commercial packages, or
in some way 'un-available' (Heck, there are two programs that do
exactly what I need that are derivatives of this package, but both are
part of other Commercial packages).

Thoughts?

--
Opinions expressed in this message are my Own. I represent nobody else.
Russell McOrmond r...@Atronx.OCUnix.On.Ca {tigris,alzabo,...}!atronx!rwm
FidoNet 1:163/109 Net Support: (613) 230-2282 (V.32Bis) Amiga-Fido 1:1/109
Gateway for .Amiga.OCUnix.On.Ca Current WELMAT 'keeper of sources'.

Aydin Edguer

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Feb 11, 1992, 6:09:26 AM2/11/92
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In article <rwm.69...@atronx.OCUnix.On.Ca> r...@atronx.OCUnix.On.Ca (Russell McOrmond) writes:
> Is it possible to re-release something previously released as
> 'Public Domain' and add what is to some seen as the 'restrictions' of
> the GNU Public Licence?

Yes.
By definition, you can do as you will with public domain software.
As you yourself pointed out:


> There are already many derivatives of this PD work that are restricted
> distribution, part of commercial packages, or in some way 'un-available'

However, since the U.S. signed the Berne Convention, things are not
as simple as they were before. This is because, prior to the signing,
failure to include a copyright notice within a document and failing
to attempt to add a copyright notice at a later time meant that
the document (in this case source code) became public domain.

Since the signing, a document has copyright protection, even without
a copyright notice, at the time of its creation. Registration of
copyright is still adviced to help settle future disputes.
This means that unless there is an explicit disclaimer of rights
by the author, the document IS NOT public domain.

Please note however, that I am not a lawyer, and that this has
been a personal opinion.

I would say that unless you put significant work into the program
some people would not view your addition of restrictions to an
unrestricted program in a positive light. I realize that the GPL
is a protective restriction, but as evidenced by the vitriolic
commentary by some people in this group, it is not always viewed
kindly.

As a courtesy, you might try to contact the author of the program to
get their views. This is never a bad idea, since the author may
have a more recent version of the source code.

Aydin Edguer

Sean Casey

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Feb 11, 1992, 4:04:33 PM2/11/92
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Once something is in the public domain, you can copyright your
changes, but you cannot copyright the original. Your copyright will be
ruled invalid in court.

Sean
--
Sean Casey |``Wind, waves, etc. are breakdowns in the face of the
se...@s.ms.uky.edu | commitment to getting from here to there. But they are the
U of KY, Lexington| conditions for sailing -- not something to be gotten rid
| of, but something to be danced with.''

David J. Camp

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Feb 11, 1992, 4:40:30 PM2/11/92
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In Reply to this Note From: <Russell McOrmond>
[text deleted]

> Is it possible to re-release something previously released as
>'Public Domain' and add what is to some seen as the 'restrictions' of
>the GNU Public Licence? What are the alternatives (Other than the
>obvious one which is to keep it 'PD', something I'd rather not do as I
>like to keep things going - There are already many derivatives of this PD
>work that are restricted distribution, part of commercial packages, or
>in some way 'un-available' (Heck, there are two programs that do
>exactly what I need that are derivatives of this package, but both are
>part of other Commercial packages).
>
> Thoughts?

You can release the softwar eunder any terms you want, as long as you
have the permission of all of the authors. -David-

# da...@wubios.wustl.edu ^ David J. Camp #
# david%wub...@wugate.wustl.edu < * > +1 314 382 0584 #
# ...!uunet!wugate!wubios!david v "God loves material things." #
# "I am a Member of the League for Programming Freedom." #

Russell McOrmond

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Feb 11, 1992, 6:26:02 PM2/11/92
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edg...@ces.cwru.edu (Aydin Edguer) writes:
>In article <rwm.69...@atronx.OCUnix.On.Ca> r...@atronx.OCUnix.On.Ca (Russell McOrmond) writes:
>> There are already many derivatives of this PD work that are restricted
>> distribution, part of commercial packages, or in some way 'un-available'

>Since the signing, a document has copyright protection, even without


>a copyright notice, at the time of its creation. Registration of
>copyright is still adviced to help settle future disputes.
>This means that unless there is an explicit disclaimer of rights
>by the author, the document IS NOT public domain.

So, more to the specifics.

The original sources originate from a PC program origionally that was PD,
and the new Sources (For an Amiga Runtime Shared Library) specifically state
in their documentation that the program, sources, and documentation are released
to the public domain.

Since this release, many 'derivatives' have been made, all of which have been
Commercially released. I would like the work that I do to be KEPT available,
including modifications. I have no problem with a commercial author USING
this runtime shared library, but to take *MY* work and 'hog' it
without ever wishing to put BACK into the system. 'Public Domain' is
a philosophy that seems to work assuming a certain level of honesty that just
does not exist with this industry, and I am hopeing that by moving the
modifications that I do into a GNU style copyright that I can keep these
sources available.

Would inclusion of all the notices from the GNU Public Licence be sufficient
for myself to allow my own work to have the restrictions. I will obviously
make note of the original sources so that those that don't wish to live
by the added 'restrictions' they can go to the original sources.

>I would say that unless you put significant work into the program
>some people would not view your addition of restrictions to an
>unrestricted program in a positive light. I realize that the GPL
>is a protective restriction, but as evidenced by the vitriolic
>commentary by some people in this group, it is not always viewed
>kindly.

The original work will still be Public domain, it is just the work that *I*
do that will be GNU CopyLeft. I have changed nothing of the origional
copyright, just made my own modifications unavailable to 'Wheel Glue'.
(Wheel Glue : Name given to people who abuse the system and stop the
software availability wheel from turning by not releasing sources to modifications
done to an origionally source released product. In my mind, these people should
all be lined up and...... ;-)


>As a courtesy, you might try to contact the author of the program to
>get their views. This is never a bad idea, since the author may
>have a more recent version of the source code.

Yes, I have started to try to get ahold of the Author. He doesn't
have an Internet address, just a Fidonet one. Since the writing of the code,
he has changed Fidonet addresses a few times (He moved I guess, and Fidonet is
silly in it's addressing scheme).

P.S. For the curious that wish the 'even more specifics', this is the
XPRZmodem.Library for the Amiga written by Rick Huebner, and was a derivative
of the Zmodem code that he wrote for the OPUS BBS program for the PC.
I also want to contact him about the possibility of receiving help writing a
similar shared library for a new bi-directional protocol he wrote for OPUS
called Janus, which might prove interesting.


>Aydin Edguer

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