[License-review] Proposal for OSI Approval track: Modified MIT License for Public Domain software

Thomas Hruska thruska at cubiclesoft.com
Tue May 30 14:11:57 UTC 2017

On 5/29/2017 9:46 AM, Rick Moen wrote:
> Thomas, your licence purports to contribute covered software into the
> public domain, but then purports to require recipients to accept the
> "Releasors'" condition of there being no warranty.  But if it's public
> domain, then the Releasors have no power to impose such a condition:
> If your licence succeeds at its aim, they no longer have an ownership
> interest.

If it is public domain, as intended, then there is no one to sue for 
warranty liability in the first place since there is no ownership. 
Otherwise, it implicitly falls back to existing legal frameworks - in 
this case copyright which assigns an owner and so warranty liability 
comes into play.  The agreement with no warranty only applies if 
copyright applies.

> Of course, commendably, your licence acknowledges that it might fail of
> its primary aim (perhaps in some jurisdictions if not in others).  Like
> CC0, you thus aim to have a fallback, what you term an 'agreement'.  But
> the basis of that agreement is actually the Releasor's copyright
> interest, which you tortuously avoid mentioning by name as if that made
> it go away.  You cannot magick away copyright by avoiding the word.

Quite true.  However, simply saying the word copyright always throws a 
monkey wrench into the works.  Avoidance was a reasonable strategy not 
to magically get rid of copyright but make it easier to work around. 
Maybe it's not a viable strategy, but certainly reasonable.  (CC0's 
length and verbosity is a testament to that monkey wrench.)

> Moreover, if developers wish to be protected against warranty
> liability, their safety is best protected by clearly stating the basis
> for requiring warranty waiver -- exactly what you are at pains to avoid
> doing.
> IMO, all you've done is slightly damage the text of MIT License, and
> putting at risk any developer adopting your variant.

Well put.  As I've said all along, this is an attempt to satisfy, within 
an existing legal framework, something that may not be possible but 
worth attempting anyway.

Maybe one day the relevant laws will change to favor public domain 
dedications for the betterment of society as a whole.  Of course, if 
that ever happens, the solution will thus plainly present itself.  This 
proposal is perhaps a bit ahead of its time.

Thomas Hruska
CubicleSoft President

I've got great, time saving software that you will find useful.


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