Towards an OSI-approved "waive all rights" software license

Derrick Coetzee dcoetzee at
Mon Apr 18 08:02:20 UTC 2011

Hi Karl,

On Sun, Apr 17, 2011 at 9:24 PM, Karl Fogel <kfogel at> wrote:
> I think the simplest possible "waive all rights" license already exists,
> in the the New (Simplified 2-Clause) BSD License [1]:
> It doesn't actually require attribution; it does require that the
> license text itself be reproduced with the sources, as you point out.
> However, this would be necessary to preserve *any* license, given
> third-party redistribution.  So while it does impose a burden, it is
> probably an unavoidable part of having licensing at all.

I have used the 2-clause BSD license myself, and while it is very
close to what I want, I think the requirement to reproduce the license
text is not essential; I can make a comparison here with public domain
works like say the Mona Lisa. It's well-established in US case law
that any faithful reproduction of the Mona Lisa from any source can be
used without restriction (Bridgeman v. Corel). Now say I set up and just stick a big image of the painting there with no
explanation. A clueless reader might imagine it's a new work still
under copyright, and be hesitant to reuse it; but anyone who either
recognizes the work, or visits another website that includes more
information about it, can readily determine that the image is in fact
public domain. In this simple example, excluding copyright information
may seem to be an unreasonable disservice to the reader; but if you
imagine that I instead web-publish a mosaic composed of hundreds of
public domain paintings, the idea of including complete copyright
information for each one now seems so daunting as to outweigh the
interests of the reader. By analogy, in the case of "mosaic software"
composed of many CC0 snippets, the important thing is that there is
still at least one source website giving a clear license statement for
the snippets; it need not travel with them everywhere they go.

> For "waive all rights", CC0 is the best thing I can think of.  It's not
> really a license, of course (as you seem to be aware).

I think this is probably the best path going forward, using the CC0
waiver directly as a software "license." I'm not so concerned about
waiving trademark or patent rights (I think it makes sense to waive
any relevant patent rights explicitly and separately). Thanks to
everyone for your feedback.

Derrick Coetzee

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