[linux-elitists] wtf is "public domain"?

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Tue Nov 6 11:51:21 PST 2007

Quoting Tom spot Callaway (tcallawa@redhat.com):

> No kidding. I'm pretty sure he can't put something into the Public
> Domain, unless he's been working for the US government the whole time.

It actually might be the case, and no less an authority than Larry
Lessig has stated that he and Creative Commons have "a good-faith
belief that you can dedicate to the public domain", and therefore CC
offers a "public domain dedication" form by which you a copyright owner
make his/her intentions maximally clear -- pending a test case, which
Lessig admits has never occurred and would be very nice to see.

It might, however, end up being true that you produce the desired effect
in one legal jurisdiction, but entirely different effect in diverse
others, e.g., nullified and thus proprietary by default in one
jurisdiction, abandoned property and reclaimable by heirs or others in a
different one, etc.

> With no disrespect to djb, I've always wondered whether the lack of
> security problems in qmail has any correlation to the fact that no Linux
> distribution of any signficance can ship it.

Not without deciding to love /var/qmail/*, anyway.  ;->

I've always carefully sidestepped claims about the $500^W$1000 bounty
and qmail security problems, but I hyperlink to some of the dogfighting 
at "MTAs" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Mail/ -- and point out that Dan's
offer applies only to unpatched qmail 1.03, which nobody sane runs.

There was also some 2005 kerfuffle about Dan allegedly... dodging
concerning a problem with integer handling on 64-bit platforms -- fixed
in netqmail.  http://cr.yp.to/qmail/guarantee.html addresses that claim 
from Dan's perspective.

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