Releasing old software into public domain.
Posted Sep 12, 2002 20:29 UTC (Thu) by xtifr
Parent article: Releasing old software into public domain.
As I understand it, the biggest problem with releasing code into the public domain in general is that you may not be able to disclaim warranty. This is the reason that a lot of people use BSD-style licenses, rather than releasing their code as public domain.
The next problem is that copyleft is intended as a form of ju-jitsu against copyright, using copyright's own strengths against it. If the older code were moved to the public domain, then it would lose this leverage. This might actually be somewhat counterproductive. It could be like laying down your arms while your enemy is still shooting at you.
Finally, the FSF might not be able to do this. While they own a lot of copyrights, they obtained most of those through agreements with developers, and those pre-existing agreements may include terms like, "the software will stay protected by the GPL for the length of its copyright." While I've never assigned anything to the FSF myself, so I haven't seen their standard copyright assignment contract, I know that I would have hesitated to assign copyright unless some such terms were present.
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