[License-review] Request for legacy approval: The Unlicense

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Mon Mar 30 08:47:00 UTC 2020

On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 11:28 PM Richard Fontana <rfontana at redhat.com>

> On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 1:02 PM Brendan Hickey
> <brendan.m.hickey at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Unlicense should not be approved under any circumstance, regardless of
> popularity.  The public domain dedication simply doesn't work. Some
> countries outside of the US (Germany?) don't recognize these grants. CC0
> anticipates jurisdictional issues and contains a fallback grant of rights.
> Without this, no one can actually rely on Unlicense.
> >
> > I wish this wasn't the case, but Unlicense is a great example of why we
> should listen to specialist attorneys on licensing matters.
> I'm going to take out my "specialist attorney on licensing matters"
> card (as much as it pains me to do so) and say I support granting
> legacy approval for the Unlicense. I wouldn't necessarily support
> approval for the regular (non-legacy) category, which arguably entails
> a more stringent form of review based on various criteria. The wide
> use of the Unlicense, and the full consistency of its terms with the
> OSD and traditional understandings of software freedom (the latter
> encompassed all sorts of more rudimentary and informal public domain
> dedication language, appearing throughout present-day corpora
> recognized by just about everyone as open source, it should be noted)
> ought to be enough.
> Richard

It would be interesting if the European lawyers on this list could also
play their specialists cards in support of this view.

My very layman expectation here is that even if there isn't an exact
counterpart to a public domain dedication in Finland, a court would
nevertheless do its best to interpret the license as intended by its author.

Also, I don't think it's correct to say that a public domain doesn't exist
outside US. We also have a time limit on copyright (e.g. 70 years after
author's death) after which the work is no longer copyrighted. (The phrase
"public domain" doesn't exist in Finnish as such though.) Certain types of
works may never have copyright protection like maybe government works and
certainly sports events, etc. So as a concept the end goal of licenses like
this one is well defined, even if it may be unclear how an author could
actively reach that end goal while still alive.


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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