Why a license is better than Public Domain
Posted Nov 30, 2007 18:29 UTC (Fri) by jreiser
In reply to: Huh?
Parent article: qmail released into the public domain
How is it "always best to provide a license"?
It is better for those who use the code, because a license identifies someone who claims to have authority to grant the license. One of the problems with Public Domain is that there is no identified authority. Anyone can claim that something called "public domain" instead is really theirs (was stolen from them.) A license provides users with a defense, and somebody to sue for not having legitimate authority to grant the license. Public domain opens users to attack from all quarters, and requires users to mount their own defense. Suppose that [a court decides that] the code really does belong to somebody else. Then a user who claims "public domain" is liable for intent to steal the code, while a bona fide licensee is not [excludes collusion between licensee and licensor to steal the code by creating a bogus license, etc.] In either case the user might be forced to discontinue using the code, but having a [supposedly valid] license tends to limit other losses.
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