[License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] Re: patent rights and the OSD

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Wed Mar 8 02:04:27 UTC 2017

On Mar 07, 2017, at 07:15 PM, "Tzeng, Nigel H." <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu> wrote:

I dislike this approach. If CC0 passes OSD then it should get approved as is. If a patent grant is now a requirement to pass the OSD it should be added as a criteria and a license passes or fails based on the license text itself.

There already is criteria -- the problem, as you noted, is that there may be a third party with patent rights on a method used by the code, thus making any recipients of the code unable to exercise (some) assurances expressed in the OSD.

Is a library that implements, e.g., the GIF patent open source if I can't sell or export that code?  I can certainly see reasonable arguments both ways.

What sparked this discussion is a license that explicitly says "you don't have a patent grant from me or, effectively, anyone that has ever contributed to this code."  I don't know if it's a small subset as suggested as I have only ever (knowingly) encountered patented code from the original authors (CAD domain), but if one of them put a license on their code and said contact me for a patent license, that feels entirely in violation of the current OSD as written because of what it knowingly prohibits.

If Creative Commons feels strongly that CC0 should only be used with some sort of patent grant the easiest course is simply to remove the disclaimer of patent grant and call it CC0-software or something. Then it would have the same implicit grant as BSD and there is no issue with approval and no new composite license structure that will just confuse people even more.

This certainly sounds like an interesting approach that I can raise with them, but obviously lacks the explicit rigor favored by the Gov't lawyers.  Otherwise, a different license like the Free Public License would be a competing option (at least in terms of non-proliferation), no?

The niche area seems to be specifically public-domain without explicitly disavowing patents and without knowingly permitting patentee contributors to create a situation.



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