[License-review] CC0 incompliant with OSD on patents, [was: MXM compared to CC0 ]

Carlo Piana osi-review at piana.eu
Tue Mar 6 16:11:10 UTC 2012

On 06/03/2012 16:24, Tzeng, Nigel H. wrote:
> Frankly Carlo, it strikes me as sour grapes with you constantly bringing
> up MXM.  Approval of new general purpose open source licenses should
> probably consider/require explicit patent grants.  However, special
> purpose licenses in the past have specifically limited patent grants and
> received OSI approval.

Not at all. I have brought it up only this time, then developed a
discussion on it -- as some others have pointed out it is the most
closely related example. I have said that I expressly agree with the
evaluation of many in the list that MXM was not compliant, that's history.

By the way, MXM was presented as a special purpose license too. But this
discussion is not about MXM, it's about unbundling patents and copyright
in a software license.

> Folks appear to be forgetting that CC0 is first a public domain COPYRIGHT
> dedication with a permissive fallback.  As such, it's another special
> purpose license that fills a need within the community (PD dedication) not
> met by another approved license.
> In many countries I would imagine that the fallback would not come into
> play.  In which case you still only have copyright rights unless public
> domain copyright dedications automatically come with trademark and patent
> rights bundled together.

I submit that if we start saying that a license that limits its scope to
the copyright domain would qualify as "open source", then we will go
down a very slippery slope, special purpose or not (but is it?)

I would regard as "openly licensed" only something for which the
licensor makes a good faith attempt at clearing the licensed thing under
*all* applicable rights that could prevent software from being used,
modified, distributed etc.

If company X uses CC0 to distribute software and somebody happily uses
it in their own application, and then company X says "wait a minute, you
have a /copyright/ permission, now let's talk about patents", I would
submit that this is not respecting most of the freedoms that are
chartered in the OSD.

So far I have not heard any convincing explanation to the contrary.

> Note that the ODC PDDL also only dedicates copyright and data rights to
> the public domain and not trademarks or patents.
> I'm going disagree with folks regarding deprecating licenses without
> explicit patent grants.  If the OSI is dumb enough to deprecate the BSD
> license I'll go ahead and deprecate the OSI as having lost touch with the
> community and I don't think I'll be alone in doing so.

As it has been discussed, BSD is an entirely different case and it does
not make any attempt to separate copyright and patents.

With best regards,


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