[License-review] Submitting CC0 for OSI approval

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Sat Feb 18 18:51:16 UTC 2012

Christopher Allan Webber scripsit:

> Let's consider that *most* OSI approved licenses actually effectively
> are the same, but without explicit statement.  Patent provisions are out
> of scope of MIT, BSD, and almost every non-apache non-*GPL license tool.

The case has been made (and also denied) that the use of the word "use"
in the MIT and BSD licenses is an implied patent grant, as "use" is one
of the Yang Worship Words of patent law:  patent licenses typically allow
the licensee to make, use, import, sell, or offer for sale the patented
invention.  By contrast, copyright licenses allow the licensee to copy,
distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and make derivative works
from the copyrighted content.  "Use" is not normally under copyright
control: if I own a properly licensed book, I may read it, hang it on
the wall in my house, or use it to insulate my root cellar or to check
erosion in a gully, all without the copyright holder's consent.

> What's being said here isn't "there's a patent license over here that
> you need to sign onto" but "this is a public domain document, it's about
> the waiver of copyright, so these other things don't apply".  And as a
> general purpose public domain tool, it makes sense that patent issues
> are not directly attached.

Just so.

> So we should reframe this question:
>   "Does explicitly stating that software patents are out of scope of a
>   software license (or public domain tool), as in CC0 1.0, create a
>   greater software patent threat than if it was never mentioned at all,
>   but still remained out of scope, as in MIT and BSD?  And if so, by
>   what mechanism does that happen?"

Indeed.  It seems to me that anyone claiming that the CC0 is problematic
because of 4a has to be able to answer that question.

Do what you will,                       John Cowan
   this Life's a Fiction                cowan at ccil.org
And is made up of                       http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
   Contradiction.  --William Blake

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