[License-discuss] Unlicense CC0 and patents

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Aug 22 19:24:10 UTC 2013

Quoting Prashant Shah (pshah.mumbai at gmail.com):

> CC0 explicitly states that it doesn't grant patent rights if there are
> any.  Is this not going against the purpose of putting the work in
> public domain itself ?

In general, the focus of Creative Commons licences has been on
maximising the possibilities for reuse and remix of cultural works.
(Small reminder:  CC's focus isn't software.)  Towards that end, they
publish a spectrum of license that within software we would classify as
variously free / open source or proprietary, the apparent aim being to
coax copyright stakeholders with differing (but sometimes large) degrees
of insistence on ongoing control to nonetheless permit reuse / remix 
of their cultural works by others under one CC licensing option or another.

As an additional reminder, copyright encumbers the particular expression
of a creative work in one of the statutory covered categories.  Patent,
by contrast, encumbers a useful practical technique or process.  It's by
no means obvious that exercising rights normally reserved to the owner of a
copyrighted creative expression necessarily infringes any patent.
(Looks to me like those concerns are largely orthogonal.)

Anyway, back to CC:  I would speculate that the wording of the CC0 
dedication + fallback permissive licence is the way it is -- including
its avoidance of the patent morass -- specifically because of CC's
guiding star of trying to coax copyright stakeholders of all types into
permitting reuse / remix.  Purporting to require them to also throw in a
bunch of patent rights would, from that perspective, reduce the appeal
of their various licence options.

However, the fact that I'm speculating highlights one of your larger
problems in all of this:  You are not (as far as I know) addressing your
concerns to Creative Commons.  I don't speak for them any more than I do
for OSI, but, FWIW, from my acquaintance with the CC folks and observing
their high level of competence, I would tend to think that if you ever
conclude that their licences fail to advance their goals, the first
qwestion you should ask yourself is whether you understand their goals.

That aside, I notice that _many_ people trying to promote 'public domain
dedications' (present company excluded) just are seeking magic tools to
make legal impediments go away, and aren't interested in complex
realities like, e.g., Unlicense being badly written and legally
defective.   For those folks, I tend to just quote Miracle Max:  
'Have fun storming the castle.'

Cheers,                "Two women walk into a bar and discuss the Bechdel Test."
Rick Moen                                                 -- Matt Watson
rick at linuxmafia.com
McQ! (4x80)       

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