[License-discuss] [License-review] CC0 incompliant with OSD on patents, [was: MXM compared to CC0 ]

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Mar 9 00:43:17 UTC 2012

Quoting Lawrence Rosen (lrosen at rosenlaw.com):

> I admit that I have argued for years against the "public domain" as an
> open source license, but in retrospect, considering the minimal risk
> to developers and users relying on such software and the evident
> popularity of that "license", I changed my mind. One can't stand in
> the way of a fire hose of free public domain software, even if it
> doesn't come with a better FOSS license that I trust more.

Speaking for myself, I've certainly never asserted (nor would I) that
anything that's _actually_ public domain (meaning no longer having the
quality of a copyright title capable of being owned) is open source.
Such a work is manifestly open source.

(As a reminder, I opined that CC0 easily satisfies OSD on account of its 
fallback licence, irrespective of any problems with its PD aspirations.)

The problem case is attempts to contribute works to the public domain 
commons whose conflict with local law makes them have no effect, or have
an effect different from what is intended, or have diverse effects among
jurisdictions.  That is the major form of risk to developers and users
I'd like to call to your attention.

The minor, pragmatic forms of risk are some that arise even if & where
such PD dedications have their intended effect -- and even if
heirs/spouses/creditors cannot gain ownership, and even if the effect of
35-year copyright reversion is ignored:  You start having a body of code
circulating whose authors and redistributors believe (either correctly
or not; that's not the issue, here) to have no copyright title, and they
probably start doing things like omitting copyright statement (creation dates 
/ author names), because, hey, no more copyright nuisance, so eliminate
the cruft, and handwave away the entire Berne regime.

(Remember, these are typically people who think that a 20-line header or 
README to state MIT/X terms is unthinkably verbose and annoying, and
even two lines to state copyright title, permissive terms, and warranty
disclaimer is far too much.)  

So, you get large numbers of people pretending as if they're in pre-1978
USA and that works can be safely treated as PD for no better reason than
partially or completely lacking legal verbiage about copyright.  This is
already starting to happen on account of the 'fire hose' you refer to.
Not much pressure in that fire hose, if you ask me, much though I like
SQLite.  (Which, by the way, I mention to stress that author D. Richard
Hipp at least bothers to document his position within the software,
albeit not the year in which he took it.)

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