Question regarding GPL

Alex Hudson home at
Thu Feb 26 12:59:08 UTC 2004

On Thu, 2004-02-26 at 12:39, Volker Dormeyer wrote:
> if this is the case, the "public domain" category description on
> might be wrong, because it suggests that code without a copyright is public
> domain. 

No, that description is correct, PD software isn't copyrighted. What I
was saying was that software without a copyright notice may not be
public domain: you don't *have* to put a notice on things you author, so
if you wrote a piece of software tomorrow and didn't put a copyright
notice on it, you would still have copyright on it and it wouldn't be
public domain.

> I'm interest in how someone can be certain, wether code without a copyright
> header is public domain or not? Does anybody know this?

You can't be certain, that's why it's recommended to put a notice on the

I'm fairly sure that in the UK you can't just mark a piece of software
as "public domain", although taking that action would probably mean that
you would find it extremely difficult to enforce your copyright at a
later point. In the UK, moral rights are not attached to software
either, whereas on the continent they are - and I'm told you cannot
rescind those rights either, so again you wouldn't be able to say a
piece of software is public domain.

Public domain is [usually] specifically those things that were
copyrighted, but the copyright has now expired on (e.g., books in
Project Gutenburg). It's highly likely, therefore, that the software
isn't public domain in a true sense. 

If the source code doesn't have a copyright notice, the best suggestion
is to leave the source alone - unless you can establish whose it is, and
get a license for it, you're probably just storing up trouble for later.



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