[License-review] OSI recognition for Creative Commons Zero License?

Carl Boettiger cboettig at gmail.com
Thu Feb 2 21:48:15 UTC 2012

On Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 1:33 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> Quoting Carl Boettiger (cboettig at gmail.com):
> > Excellent question.  I believe that the need to include the license
> itself
> > in BSD and MIT licenses make them substantially different from the CC0
> > license.
> If you don't wish to require inclusion of a licence text, waive that
> requirement, where present, in your copyright notice.

I'm not sure I understand.  Are you suggesting I write a custom copyright
notice?  Doesn't this forfeit the benefit using an OSI-approved licenses?

> For a long time, I published some technical documentation under GPLv2,
> carelessly forgetting about its clause 1 requirement to include a copy
> of the licence.  Someone on OSI licence-discuss pointed out my gaffe,
> and I amended my copyright notice accordingly.  (I think it was John
> Cowan.  Thank you, John.)
> Anyway, MIT License is only about 20 lines.  Fair License is 3 lines.
> Much as I admire terseness, there is such thing as taking that passion
> to extremes.

And the creative commons zero license is 121 lines.  I recognize the value
of an explicit license, but I also believe there is great value of not
requiring users to include any copy of that license.

> > First, I often distribute software packages with data.  This is common
> > practice for R packages, for example.  It is unclear that the MIT license
> > and its kin can apply to the data, which are statements of fact and
> > not copyright-able material.
> If your copyright notice is unclear, you should fix that.  I'm sorry,
> but I cannot see who has a problem, here.

I would like to use an OSI-recognized license.  While I doubt a scientific
conference or journal that requires the use of OSI licenses would truly
reject me for using CC0, lacking the support of OSI for CC0 creates an
additional barrier to my use of a license that I feel would give other
users and developers maximum benefit of my software.

> > Second, such clauses place an additional burden on the reuse of the
> > software.  If someone wants to grab snippets of code I distribute (i.e.
> > through github) and paste them into a pastebin or gist and send them
> around
> > to all their friends/vistors/etc, they shouldn't have to worry about
> > whether they've copied a "substantial portion" of the code and if they
> have
> > to copy that license somewhere into their gist or blog or what not.
> Small snippets of code probably don't even have copyright title, and
> nobody even cares about title to them anyway, and their provenance isn't
> even in the general case going to be traceable.

> If you're _really_ concerned about that, put
> #Do whatever you want with this codebase.  Copyright (c) 2112 Joe Owner.
> ...as a comment on line one.

CC0 was explicitly created to solve the license challenges I have (applying
equally well to data and code, not burdening the user with deciding what's
substantial, and being appropriately vetted by legal experts).  For these
reasons I am not interested in coming up with my own custom solution.
 Further, is it really the position of OSI that I should write custom
licenses rather than use one they recognize?

So the primary objection to this recognition is that it comes from a random
developer and not the folks at Creative Commons.  Is that correct?

Thanks for the lively discussion!


> As a personal comment, I'd like the global copyright regime to go away,
> too, but we'll need to take it up with the legislatures of the world.
> Handwaving it away just doesn't work well.  (My view, available to
> others for a small fee and waiver of reverse-engineering rights.)
> --
> Rick Moen              "An easy way that you can save space is to edit out
> the
> rick at linuxmafia.com    overused word 'that.'  That's just not a word that
> needs
> McQ!  (4x80)           that much use."                       --
> FakeAPStylebook
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Carl Boettiger
UC Davis
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