Lab Report 1 ~ Exploring how to release something into the public domain

Mr. Danoff's Teaching Laboratory
Lab Report
#: One
Topic: Exploring how to release something into the public domain
Date: 01 April 2011

Cf. = an abbreviation for the Latin word confer (the imperative singular form of “conferre”), literally meaning “bring together”, is used to refer to other material or ideas which may provide similar or different information or arguments. via Wikipedia


“I am wondering what the policy is on developing public domain resources here. That is, if I created a resource (e.g. lesson plan) and as the creator dedicated it to the public domain, then brought it into Wikiversity. Afterwards, could it still be a public domain resource? Given images that are edited by the community can remain public domain, I don’t see why not. I did a rough draft of a license for this, built off one from another Wikimedia project where this goes on. –Charles Jeffrey Danoff 21:16, 21 February 2011 (UTC)”

sparked a long discussion in the Wikiversity colloquium.

Led me to this from the a U.S. Copyright Office – Regulations webpage.

§ 201.26   Recordation of documents pertaining to computer shareware and donation of public domain computer software.

(a) General. This section prescribes the procedures for submission of legal documents pertaining to computer shareware and the deposit of public domain computer software under section 805 of Public Law 101–650, 104 Stat. 5089 (1990). … (b) Definitions … (1) The term computer shareware is accorded its customary meaning within the software industry.  … (2) A document designated as pertaining to computer shareware means licenses or other legal documents governing the relationship between copyright owners of computer shareware and persons associated with the dissemination or other use of computer shareware.  … (3) Public domain computer software means software which has been publicly distributed with an explicit disclaimer of copyright protection by the copyright owner.

Examples I’ve seen of people putting their work out into the public domain include the Mediawiki Wiki Template:PD Help Page (Cf. Project:PD help). And a similar template on the Microformats Wiki (Cf. Category:public domain license: 1.1 Why Public Domain?).

micro-formats-wiki-public-domain-templateFigure 0.1
Microformats Wiki Template

Then there’s this from The United States Army | FAQ

I have a site on the Internet, and was wondering if I could post some of your pictures on my site?

Images, pictures, and other media depicting Army personnel carrying out their official duties may be used by non-Federal entities in communication venues which are solely informational in nature, such as newspapers, news magazines, or other media that focus on reporting social or industry news, and are not directly or indirectly associated with a marketing, advertising, or a self-promoting activity (including company annual reports).

Photographs and imagery on the Army’s website at, unless otherwise noted, are in the public domain. Attribution of the source is always appreciated by the military photographer.

Army imagery is provided without talent releases on any individual portrayed. Imagery is provided with the understanding that the Army has no authority to waive the privacy rights of any individual depicted in government media. And no exclusive rights to official records may be claimed by any organization or individual.

OVO‘s dedication is slightly different:

The person or persons who have associated their work with these documents (the “Dedicators”) hereby dedicate the entire copyright in the works of authorship identified below (the “Work”) to the public domain. Dedicators make this dedication for the benefit of the public at large and to the detriment of the Dedicators’ heirs and successors. Dedicators intend this dedication to be an overt act of relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights under copyright law, whether vested or contingent, in the Work. Dedicators understand that such relinquishment of all rights includes the relinquishment of all rights to enforce (by lawsuit or otherwise) those copyrights in the Work. Dedicators recognize that, once placed in the public domain, the Work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived.

I’ve made some efforts of my own

wikiversity-public-domain-template-attemptFigure 0.2
Wikiversity User:Charles Jeffrey Danoff/PD Sandbox 6. Template Attempt
oercisian-article-public-domain-licensing-screenshotFigure 0.3
Finding Concerts for OERcisians: Independent Academics & Scratch (Money) Copyright Information

Although advice from the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, which eventually led me to some reading from the Free Software Foundation by rms. After considering the idea of copyleft I did a draft of something that might be more appropriate:

metapad-screenshotFigure 0.4
Screenshot of Metapad on my computer.


Probably helpful also to read the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and/or Robert A. Baron’s Making the Public Domain Public.

Acknowledgment: I’d like to thank Rebecca Blood’sThe Weblog Handbook” for inspiring me to explore new ways to use my weblog with this post.

Amplifications & Corrections

  1. I re-did the link to the USA Army FAQ, it was broken. 01 April 2011
  2. The Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of public domain is “The state or condition of belonging or being generally available to all, esp. through not being subject to copyright. Chiefly in in the public domain.” [sic] Their second example of usage is “1938 Lowell (Mass.) Sun 20 Apr. 20/1 First published in 1904, ‘Pinocchio’ is in the public domain for America.” 07 April 2011.
  3. I sent this post to the Public Domain discuss list. A kind reader sent me an e-mail suggesting “I think that the metapad screenshot should say ‘It has been given <license list> licenses.’, not ‘It has been give a <license list>’.” I agree. 10 April 2011.
Copyright (C) 2011 Charles Jeffrey Danoff (Mr. Danoff). Creative Commons Attribution 2.1 Japan Licensed. :: :: :: ::