public domain v free (was: 8" floppy project

From: Don Maslin <>
Date: Tue Aug 10 17:34:55 2004

On Tue, 10 Aug 2004, Fred Cisin wrote:

> > I don't agree with the last part of your statement. To most people
> > Public Domain equates to free. "Public domain" means the "public"
> > owns it legally but it's still free in that anyone can use it for
> > free.
> Yes, "public domain" (relinquishment of copyright ownership) is free.
> But free is not necessarily public domain. There do exist some
> things that are copyrighted, but available to the public for free.
> Consider Richard Stallman. None of his stuff is public domain.
> He retains copyright on it so that he can make restrictions on it.
> Consider Shareware. Every shareware author who understands
> the laws retains copyright. One major reason is that there
> have been numerous cases of others hijacking the revenue stream!
> Sometimes it is a case where somebody makes enhancements, and
> then directs the donations/fees/payments to themselves -
> consider S.E.A v Phil Katz.
> Other times, there have been people who have done nothing more
> than change the splash screen to redirect the money.

I am not so sure about that, Fred. Consider the case of the
shareware author who has 'withdrawn his product from shareware',
(someone likened it 'unringing the bell') declined to accept
further registrations, or provide support for the product, yet
made no active effort to remove it from general availability.
Has he not essentially abandoned his rights to any control over
usage of the product? The law has a principle Laches which
implies that if you wait too long to defend your rights you have
essentially lost them. There is also the principal of Estoppel
which is essentially 'you waited too long, quit your bitching'!

                                                - don

> --
> Grumpy Ol' Fred
Received on Tue Aug 10 2004 - 17:34:55 BST

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