[sf-lug] need advice: GPL licensing question

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 13 17:40:41 PDT 2007

Quoting jim stockford (jim at well.com):

> side track: the various governmental entities (fed, state, etc.) have
> a lot of code in the public domain, yes?

Creative works produced by the _states_ do not ever pass directly into
the public domain.  (Thus, neither do the creations of cities, counties,
boroughs, townships, special districts, etc., as those are extensions of
the states.)  Only Federal creations.

The bit about Federal works is a special carveout in the Copyright Act, 
17 U.S.C. section 105:

   Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work
   of the United States Government, but the United States Government is
   not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it
   by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

There's a significant amount of material.  Code, yes.  A prodigious 
number of books, reports, and pamphlets, sure.

Some VC-funded firms have found some of that public domain code
intresting, such as Medsphere Corporation and VistA, for example:


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