[Foundation-l] PD-old images under restrictions

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue May 22 00:48:36 UTC 2007

Bryan Tong Minh wrote:

>Following a deletion debate on Commons [1], we are left with the
>problem whether or not Public domain images that are under other
>restrictions, such as coats of arms, are allowed under the Foundation
>Licensing policy. If I quote Erik Moeller, from another thread [2] on
>the mailing list:
>'[...]the licensing policy has been specifically formulated to avoid
>that problem. It requires content to be under a Free Content License,
>which is defined as "a license which meets the terms of the Definition
>of Free Cultural Works _specific to licenses_".[...]'
>However, since we are talking about public domain, this does not apply
>for this image, since public domain is not a license. 
Public domain overrides licences.  Something that is in the public 
domain is, in simplest terms, owned by the public.  Hypothesizing vague 
other restrictions gets us nowhere.  It creates an atmosphere where 
unforseen and unforseeable restrictions lurk at every turn.  A good 
solid principle in law is that that which is not forbidden is 
permitted.  We do ourselves a serious disservice if in establishing a 
policy to deal with copyright we start to draw in other possibilities.  
While such other restrictions may be perfectly valid, they should be 
treated separately rather than under the guise of copyright.  At that 
point they need to be made clear and specific.

>This means that
>another section of the resolution applies:
>'[...] or which is otherwise free as recognized by the 'Definition of
>Free Cultural Works' as referenced above.'
>Which is not the case, this specific image is under more restrictions;
>see the deletion debate for details. Is this analysis correct? Or
>should we just treat public domain as a "free content license"?
A free content licence should work to make content more free, not less 
free.  It is useful to make being free dependent on characteristics 
inherent in the work itself rather than ones that depend on how a user 
employs the work.  The latter is completely beyond our control.


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