Public Domain Python

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Sun Sep 10 00:58:05 CEST 2000

"Magnus Lie Hetland" <mlh at> wrote in message
news:8pe0t4$34r$1 at
> Tom <nospam at> wrote in message
> news:Litu5.19468$E_6.6890511 at
> > You hit the nail on the head with "Public Domain".
> >
> > That's one of the reasons I have started to use Python (and why I won't
> use
> > Java).
> > If changes to the license (or changes in the way that Python is
> > mean that I can no longer consider it Public Domain than I'll go back to
> > language that supports type checking.
> I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Python never has been in the public
> domain. So I guess you'll have to start learning Java... :)

I don't think anybody is claiming proprietary rights on Python
proper, i.e., the *language*?  Copyright on the implementation,
and maybe trademark on the name in certain contexts.  But if
you reimplemented the language independently (e.g. the way
Mr Skaller did with Vyper), deliberately "cloning" it, would you
be running any legal risk...?  I thought only Java and ADA were
popular languages undergoing that level of 'protection'.

It's easy to get confused between a language and its implementation
when there's only one of the latter, but, with JPython, CPython, and
Vyper, not to mention forthcoming developments such as Python.NET,
it doesn't seem to me that this is the case.  Or are all of these
versions derived works of CNRI's-claimed stuff?  I thought Vyper
at least wasn't (it's got its own license, LGPL, but, again, only on
the _implementation_, I think...? i.e., not on the language being
implemented -- much like, say, gcc, MS's VC++, etc, each have
their intellectual-property claims, but none claims to own _C++_
as such...).


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