Public Domain Python

Neil Hodgson neilh at
Mon Sep 11 03:26:37 CEST 2000

Quinn Dunkan wrote
> The subject seems to have quickly drifted from my original question (which
> only half in jest).  I gather CNRI has the copyright, so they're the only
> who could give it up.  Since they don't make any money on python, and are
> spending money on lawyers to keep from getting sued or whatever, it seems
> shouldn't have any big reason to not make python pd (no one can sue you
for pd
> software, is that correct?).

   It is possible to be sued for software you have placed in the public
domain although I haven't heard of a case. Possible grounds would include
releasing material you have no rights to (such as incorporating some other
software) causing some direct mischief (such as releasing a virus) and
possibly being negligent (here's my neat pacemaker code. Oh it crashed - too

   One of the reasons for having licenses rather than public domaining code
is the fear that you could be sued without enough disclaimers: "Software is
not designed or
licensed for use in on-line control of aircraft"... as the Java license
likes to say.

   I'd expect the best way for CNRI to maximise their safety would be to
sell the code to Guido/BeOpen who then do the release and take full
responsibility for it. Unless that was seen as fraudulently passing a
liability to a shell entity, they'd then be free of worry. Safest to never
release at all ;)


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