Please help me respond to a German user about the GPL

Bernhard R. Link brlink at
Thu Feb 11 20:11:28 UTC 2010

* Alexander Reichle-Schmehl <alexander at> [100211 14:59]:
> > Please help me understand and respond to his concerns, particularly from
> > the standpoint of European or German copyright.
> Could it be, that he confuses that with "public domain"?  TTBOMK many
> Europeans (at least Germans) can't legally refrain from the rights on
> their works and put something under "public domain".

Translating legal terms like that does not make much sense.
There is no copyright in Germany, no public domain, no licenses, nor
any other English term. There are also other legal concepts, but that
is not a bigger difference than with other term: translating things
word by word just produces gibberish.

So while "Man kann sein Werk nicht gemeinfrei machen." might be a
correct (though already in German very formal hair splitting) German
sentence that could be correctly translated in some sense to
"You cannot place your work in the public domain", that does not mean
that you cannot place your work in the public domain.

In the same way one could "mis"translate that you cannot sell copyrights
in Germany and still people doing it effectively all the time.

	Bernhard R. Link

P.S: I don't think that any insight in Germany can help you understand
the original mail. It sounds more like the mail of an U.S. citizen
asking for a license of a software because the GPL does not apply to him
because he is not member of the communist party. (Or any other equally
absurd non-sequitur).

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