[License-discuss] I've been asked to license my open source project CC0

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Fri Nov 10 10:22:57 UTC 2017

Hi Shahar.

You already got many answers, but none seem to be complete, so let me have
a go...

On Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 8:09 PM, Shahar Or <mightyiampresence at gmail.com>

> I have been asked to change the license of an open source project of mine
> to CC0. I'm reluctant to do so, as it is not OSI approved.
> https://github.com/mightyiam/shields-badge-data/issues/28

Makes sense. I wouldn't do it either.

I should say I think Creative Commons is great and all of what they do is
well intended. But for software I think there's no justification to not
pick an OSI approved license. (Conversely, CC licenses are primarily
designed for copyrighted works that are not software code.)

The relevant history here is as follows:

A couple years ago people proposed to Creative Commons to submit CC0 for
OSI certification. You can find that discussion on license-review list if
you want to read with your own eyes.

Questions were then raised about the fact that CC0 expressly excludes
patents from the grant. (Which is fair in the sense that public domain is a
concept related to copyright.) Many reviewers voiced an opinion that
explicitly reserving the right to sue your users for patent infringment is
clearly not compatible with the Open Source Definition. (Notably, OSI has
previously rejected licenses on the same grounds. Search for MXL I believe?)

CC then withdrew it's submission. Technically then, it's never been decided
whether CC0 is open source or not, but it is not OSI approved.

Is there good reason for this request, at all?

Probably not. Maybe they don't want other licenses in their repo. It's
quite common for open and closed software to include small parts that are
BSD, ISC, MIT, etc licensed, even if the software as a whole is licensed
under its own license.

If they have an actual reason (that is not a policy or possibly a
misinformed reason), it would have to be something that is in the ISC
license and not in CC0. Seems like warranty and patents are the 2

> I mean, can they not otherwise depend on my software, if their software is
> CC0 licensed?
> When I conveyed my reluctance it was suggested that I dual-license.

Dual-license is often a good solution! You have 1 license that is OSI
approved, so you are clearly open source. Then you have other licenses that
meet some other specific need.

You need to consider still, whether CC0 is a license you want to use. Is it
ok that someone would distribute your software without warranty and with
explicitly reserving the right to sue for patents?

Note that as long as you keep the ISC in your own repo, then people getting
the software from you, will still have both the warranty and whatever
patent license may be implied by the short ISC license.

henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-5697354        skype: henrik.ingo            irc: hingo

My LinkedIn profile: http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/henrik-ingo/3/232/8a7
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