[License-review] OSI, legal conditions outside the "four corners" of the license, and PD/CC 0 [was Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?]

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Jan 3 01:42:17 UTC 2012

Quoting Chad Perrin (perrin at apotheon.com):

> Apart from calling public domain dedications "licenses", my view is that
> this is probably a good step to take.  I think the Unlicense might also
> be a worthwhile public domain dedication to consider for certification.

I hadn't seen Unlicense before now, but my immediate impression is that
it's not well formed and should be avoided.

Its first sentence professes to put the covered work into the public
domain.  However, then the second sentence professes to grant reserved
rights under copyright law.  However, who is granting those rights, the
erstwhile copyright holder who, one sentence earlier, professed to
destroy his or her own title?

By contrast, CC0 states explicitly that the current copyright holder 
is attempting (I paraphrase) to the extent permitted by local law to
disavow in perpetuity and on behalf of all successors all reserved
rights, and _if that is locally unsuccessful_ grants a permissive
licence under his/her powers as copyright owner.

I realise there are a whole lot of software engineers out there who'd
like to handwave copyright law out of their lives (including you), but
it'd be really nice if they'd occasionally bother to consult suitable
legal help before shooting themselves and others in the foot.

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