[License-review] veto against Unlicence

McCoy Smith mccoy at lexpan.law
Fri May 15 14:18:50 UTC 2020

The way I understand the argument being presented here, it is that the following statement in Unlicense:

“Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute this software, either in source code form or as a compiled binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any



Cannot be construed as a backstop license, which is how CC0 deals with the concerns that in certain jurisdictions, dedications to the public domain are not recognized at all, or for at least of some of the author’s rights.  


I have yet to hear what it is about the above passage that precludes it from being a license, even though it is worded fairly similarly (and arguably more comprehensively) to the OSI-approved, and ubiquitously-used, BSD license:

“Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:”


I would suggest that someone ought to present some foundation (legal decision, statutory limitation) for the assertion that Unlicense doesn’t include a backstop license grant if this debate about invalidity of bare public domain dedications is to continue (I think everyone acknowledges that a pure public domain dedication without a backstop is problematic).


From: License-review <license-review-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of Pamela Chestek
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2020 6:33 AM
To: license-review at lists.opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-review] veto against Unlicence


The difference with the Unlicense is that it also clearly states what rights are granted. Does that not resolve any concern with the Unlicense?


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