[GRASS5] Re: [Fwd: whinging about GRASS again]
Mark P. Line
mark at polymathix.com
Wed Feb 2 14:49:36 EST 2005
Jack Varga said:
> Russell Nelson wrote:
>> Public domain software is open source software.
> Since when?
> Several "public domain" applications (e.g., Trumpet Winsock, PKZip,
> ArcExplorer, etc.) exist whose binary executable is available for free
> to anyone who wants to download it, while the source is not disclosed.
> While these applications are in the public domain, their source code is
> definitely not. Open source is a subclass of public domain. That is,
> their source code is in the public domain in addition to their binary
Open source software is by definition *NOT* in the public domain if it is
constrained by copyright or by a license agreement.
"Public domain" has a well-established meaning in intellectual property law:
"the realm or status of property rights that belong to the community
at large, are unprotected by copyright or patent, and are subject to
appropriation by anyone" (MW Dict. of Law, 1996)
I doubt that any of the applications you named are in the public domain,
even though they may be free to download, since I assume that they are
protected by both copyright and license agreements.
The works of Shakespeare or Mozart can be published and distributed (for
free or for money) by anyone in any form without infringing upon any
This is distinct from open source software, which is always protected by
copyright in my experience and which can only be distributed legally
within the constraints of the license agreement you agreed to when you
Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX
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