Public Domain Python

Stephen Hansen stephen at
Sun Sep 10 04:59:29 CEST 2000

In article <CBzu5.21410$E_6.7764216 at>, "Tom"
<nospam at> wrote:
> That does put a kink in my enthusiasm.  So, if Python isn't public
> domain then why does the Python community have that good, Linux-like,
> public spirit.  I refer to the way that people promote the language and
> help each other, etc. - as if we are doing something for the public
> good, rather than just for the good of CNRI or BeOpen.
> By your definition, is C++ (my previous language) public domain?  Or
> does AT&T hold a copyright?
> Tom.

You're confused about what it means to be Public Domain. Something
can be used, modified, copied, and destributed by the 'public' without
restriction and not be in the Public Domain.

The Public Domain is a very specific legal state of existance for a work,
that means it has no copyright. Look at the source in Linux, see the
copyrights on the top, that refer to it being released under the GPL?
 Linus Torvalds is specifiying what your rights are to use that source
code -- as the copyright holder, he has this power. He has given the
public the right to use, modify, copy, and distribute the software, with
a few restrictions, via the GPL. This is _not_ the same thing as 
Public Domain.

C++ is a specification, an 'idea' on how a computer should read a
text file and convert it into its own native language. You don't
copyright ideas, you unfortunately can patent them; there arent any 
C++ patents, and the name isn't trademarked. Individual, specific 
_implementations_ of that idea are copyrighted under various 
licenses and under various terms. Some implemenanations of
the language are very 'public', such as gcc, some aren't, such as
Visual C++.

Do you see the difference?


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