[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
Wed Jan 4 08:19:47 UTC 2012

Quoting Chad Perrin (perrin at apotheon.com):

> I agree that a simple license is generally better than a layered fallback
> on top of an attempt to disclaim copyright, but that is not the same as
> saying that a layered fallback on top of an attempt to disclaim copyright
> is not "open source".

Who exactly in this picture is so claiming?  I certainly wasn't.

> I don't think the point is to try to establish a license after
> disclaiming copyright, exactly.  Rather, I think the intent is to offer
> license terms should the public domain dedication legally fail for a
> given jurisdiction.

That's not what it says -- which is part of where it fails compared to
(say) CC0.

> If public domain dedication fails, and license terms apply instead, the
> warranty is still valid.  Right?  I think, again, the point was not to
> dedicate something to the public domain then try to impose license terms,
> but to impose license terms only if the public domain dedication failed.

My point was that the licence author seems to have attempted to disclaim
warranty at the same time as professing to put the work into the public
domain, without realising that the latter, if effective, prevents the

You may say that was not his intent.  Me, I think that our having to
guess intent suggests problems by itself.

Anyhow, I really do not wish to spend more time on 'Unlicense' (and on
the whole I'd rather not spend time trying to reason with people trying
to mimic PD through text-salad operations on existing permissive
licences, as in my experience it's a massive time sink with little to
show for it).

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