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Definition: Materials are deemed in the PublicDomain , except for any express restrictions included in such Materials. Materials are posted with respect for every party's proprietary rights.


The second clause allows PrimarilyPublicDomain text to include material under a more restrictive copyright license, provided that such restrictions are explicitly marked, though the default is public domain. By contrast, the BerneConvention has content copyrighted by default.

Note that in most countries not based on anglo-saxon common law, you cannot waive your copyright; therefore works in the public domain are solely the works whose copyright has expired. An author can license most of his rights away (use, copy, distribute, perform, dramatize, translate) but not all of them (right to be named as the author, right not to be defamed). The most an author can do is promise he won't enforce the rights he cannot license to others. Hence: primarily PublicDomain.


This tag can be used as PermissionTagging - either in signatures, or to mark entire essays, as in these two examples:

This wiki doesn't have enough quotes from Bond movies. --PrimarilyPublicDomain, BondFan

The above text is PrimarilyPublicDomain

They can also be used on a home page as an OpenAuthor? statement:

Content I submit to MeatballWiki is PrimarilyPublicDomain

Finally, a site may decide to be entirely PrimarilyPublicDomain as a copyright policy.

Issues with tags

PrimarilyPublicDomain tags cannot be used on a site that requires an exclusive license to user-contributed content, such as the OpenDirectoryProject. Most sites use non-exclusive licenses. On sites with highly restrictive non-exclusive licenses, you can think of PPD tags as guerilla free-content, deep behind enemy lines. Do try to remember that it's not really a war.

As public domain is not CopyLeft, PrimarilyPublicDomain tags can be removed as appropriate. For example, if you add to some PrimarilyPublicDomain content, and you don't want the derived work (with your additions) to enter the public domain, you may simply remove the PrimarilyPublicDomain tags. There is no legal requirement that PPD (or PublicDomain) content must forever be attached to a banner proclaiming its freeness. Of course, if your additions are minor they might still be redistributable under FairUse or DeMinimis?.

If a site has a lot of PrimarilyPublicDomain text, then the RightToFork and the RightToLeave are strengthened: content can be moved or copied elsewhere without CopyrightParanoia. They can be used to work around a site with a (perceived) deficient copyright policy (see WikiCopyright et al). They allow OpenContent fans to collaborate with those who desire to have All Rights Reserved.

On the downside, PermissionTagging does increase page clutter. Tagging every comment would be insane, but tagging well thought out essays is fine, where someone else might want to take them. Similar tags for CopyLeft licenses are a more complex problem.

CategoryOpenContent, CategoryCopyright

In favour: MartinHarper, SunirShah, ChrisPurcell, BayleShanks

Against its application within MeatBall: HelmutLeitner (against PermissionTagging generally)


I want to extend PPD slightly, adding a social convention to it. "Do not remove a PPD tag without considering why it was placed there. If the main body of text is PPD, seriously consider making your comments and refactorings PPD, even when you normally wouldn't. The tag indicates a desire to keep something freely-distributable, thus removing the tag is equivalent to expressly denying that desire. Equally, keeping your comments your copyright will make the work of those maintaining the PPD material harder if your ideas (non-copyrightable) are useful. This may well be more than you intended to achieve, even though it is within your rights."

Obviously, we have a lot yet to discuss about PPD. I think convention and PPD should make an effective combination, entirely supplanting "open"/"viral" CopyLeft. This is my opening salvo in the argument. -- ChrisPurcell

It's an interesting idea to make PPD "viral" by use of a CommunityExpectation. On the other hand, if someone was to contribute a fascinating idea, but (for whatever reason) didn't want to make their text PublicDomain, I'd rather they contributed that idea than worry about corrupting PPD text. I don't want to get into whether PPD is "better" than the default copyright situation, just note that some people have a preference. --MartinHarper

If they have that strong a preference, and they step on the toes of someone else with a strong preference (they will be using PPD explicitly on the page, rather than implicitly for all their posts), there will be problems. Better to post under the PPD tag - easy enough to do, no? For example, if I post a "how-to-use" description for some tech described on the site, I want people to be able to just copy it. Removing the PPD tag is thus rather rude, and I just want that stated rather than kept an unspoken convention.

Incidentally, does anyone actually have a problem with keeping explicitly-marked text PPD when they refactor it? Assuming, of course, that the reason for having it is more than just "I like making my text public domain", which should be done implicitly anyway (another convention that should perhaps be made explicit). -- ChrisPurcell

My point was really that I'd rather someone contributed below the PPD tag, leaving their comments copyrighted, than didn't contribute at all. I certainly agree with you that stripping PPD tags for no good reason is rude. --MartinHarper

.... and now I feel differently. Strip the PPD tags, by all means, but say that you've done so in the edit summary, so I (or someone else) can grab the prior text from the VersionHistory and put it up on OpenMeatballWiki. That comes closest to achieving the twin aims of free redistribution and free collaboration. Some form of KeptVersions or "pinned" pages would help here, as one could then pin the last known "free" version. --MartinHarper

I'd like to find a way to state the PrimarilyPublicDomain in english, verbed, perhaps in english prime. The best I have so far is: breakset grants full reproduction rights for any reasonable reason. appropriate attribution appreciated.


oh yes as tersely as possible. :) JasonMichaelSmithson

Hi, Great to find this discussion about PrimarilyPublicDomain. I'll need to absorb it! Meanwhile I've been organizing an Open People network http://www.primarilypublicdomain.org/2.html which uses the "OpenAuthor?" idea described above. We're using that as a network for "working openly" and also leveraging the qualitites of such people as the basis for team-building for private work. Also, I've set up a website Working Openly WOW that helps us organize such information. It is a marriage of a directory (edited (by me) with the help of TheBrain http://www.thebrain.com) and the Web (we rely on references to pages, wikis, etc. rather than use a database). I've made a link back to here from http://www.primarilypublicdomain.org/63.html AndriusKulikauskas

if you add to, or refactor, some PrimarilyPublicDomain content, and you don't want your additions to enter the public domain, you may simply remove the PrimarilyPublicDomain tags. The content then reverts to the same status as everything else on the site.

I'm confused. So what then is the legal status of material elsewhere that was copied from said content whilst it was still public domain? It can't be public domain, since you've now retroactively removed that status from the content you've edited - unless you've replaced the content in its entirety, which wouldn't affect pre-copied text. -- EarleMartin

Yes, this is incorrect. I've fixed it. My point was that the derived work can be treated as if it had never been PPD, but it was badly phrased. --MartinHarper

AndriusKulikauskas and NormMegill? have developed the idea towards EthicalPublicDomain, which might be a step forward if ethical standards can be developed that really support a culture of PublicDomain. -- HelmutLeitner


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