[License-discuss] New OSI FAQ items posted about Public Domain and CC0.

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Wed Apr 4 00:53:45 UTC 2012

(This seems appropriate for both license-discuss@ and license-review@, so
I'm posting it in both places.)

I've been seeing an increasing number of inquiries about the public
domain and open source, and about CC0 and open source.  A few of those
inquiries have come here, but I'm also getting them elsewhere.

So I've tried to formulate good answers:


I hope I've reflected the general consensus of the License Review
committee accurately, not made any legal mistakes, etc.  I'd appreciate
feedback on these.

The "public domain" entry is complex.  It felt wrong to simply say that
PD is not open source, when it clearly exhibits most or all of the
important properties of Open Source and is at least capable of meeting
the OSD; on the other hand, it is not a license and therefore cannot be
OSI-approved, and it has some portability problems.  So I've tried to
express all of that in the answer, and recommend that people use
OSI-approved licenses wherever possible.

The CC0 entry is more straightforward, but also would benefit from peer

Please hold the flamethrowers, anyone who might be tempted to flame, and
remember that these are inherently contentious and complicated subjects!
It would be easier for the OSI to just say nothing on the topics :-),
but silence on these questions would not serve our mission very well.


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