Adding Fortuna as a new prng

Nicolas Williams Nicolas.Williams at
Fri Aug 20 20:14:38 EDT 2010

On Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 04:52:13PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Nicolas Williams <Nicolas.Williams at> writes:
> > On Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 04:40:45PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> >> It's an unsettled area of copyright law, [...]
> > Well, it works for SQLite, for example (and they offer versions with
> > copyright and license for customers who don't believe public domain will
> > work for them, but these are not distributed publicly).
> It depends on what you mean by "works."  The failure mode, of course,
> never happens if the person granting public domain rights (and their
> heirs) all honor that grant.  The failure would be if SQLite suddenly
> decided that their work wasn't under the public domain and that everyone
> using it needed to pay them money.

Well, IANAL, but from what I can tell the key is to have proof that the
copyright was abdicated.  In some countries it is specifically not
possible to abdicate copyrights.

> I don't believe it's ever been litigated, but the problem with there being
> no clear legal way to put something into the public domain is that there's
> some chance that they would be successful in litigation if they ever did
> that, on the grounds that their release of software into the public domain
> is not legally possible.  They would, of course, have estoppel issues, and
> doubtless it would be complicated.

I remember when the same thing was said of LLCs in the U.S. (I got
advice 15 years ago to use an S corp instead of an LLC).  I suspect that
American courts wouldn't want to create chaos by ignoring proof that an
author did make a public statement placing a work into the public
domain.  Creative Commons issues "receipts" for this...

> But I'm sure that they're offering versions with a copyright and license
> precisely because risk-adverse corporations with intellectual property
> counsel don't believe that their public domain statement is sufficient
> legal protection for the company's use of SQLite.  And I suspect MIT
> Kerberos would run into the same issue if it embedded software from a
> public domain library.

Yes, that's likely true.

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