From: Andrew Koenig (ark_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-11-20 10:31:43
>> Keith Gorlen,
>> the author of the NIH (National Institutes of Health) class library,
>> told me once that his work, being a ``US Government work'' is in the
>> public domain and *cannot* be copyrighted or licensed. That is,
>> *nothing* that anyone does with his work can legally prevent anyone
>> from copying it, so there is no meaningful way of licensing it.
Beman> If I understand correctly, what was being requested was that it
Beman> be possible to clearly associate each file with its legal
Beman> status. So in the case you mention, I guess they would want to
Beman> see a notice to the effect it was a "US Government work" and
Beman> that it was in the public domain.
No -- what the FSF wanted was for the author to assign the copyright
to the FSF, and Keith could not do that because once a work is in the
public domain, it is no longer possible for the FSF or anyone else
to copyright it.
I expect that someone may say that actual ownership by the FSF is not
an issue here--that all FSF wanted was to be able to put the work
under GPL (which would also be impossible for a public-domain work).
However, I'm quite sure that ownership is the issue, because the same
issue rears its head in
-- Andrew Koenig, ark_at_[hidden], http://www.research.att.com/info/ark
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