[License-review] Submitting CC0 for OSI approval

Russ Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Sun Feb 19 03:58:47 UTC 2012

John Cowan writes:
 > Russ Nelson scripsit:
 > > Yes, let's all thank Bruce for that. (If Bruce wants credit, he has to
 > > take blame, too.) 
 > Can you please stop the dick-measurinug contest on this list?  (And by
 > "dick-measuring" I mean "measuring who can be the bigger dick".)

It's not dick-measuring. Bruce is appealing to his authority as author
of the OSD to make claims about how it should be interpreted. I
dispute his authority AND his interpretation. I do believe it's fair,
since HE brought it up, to diminish his authority.

 > Indeed.
 > > And, the final killer is that CC0 is an attempt to put software into
 > > the public domain, or come as near as possible. So, in a country where
 > > CC0 is valid law, once you see the CC0 on a piece of code, you don't
 > > have to reproduce the CC0 anymore. Now, code that is in the public
 > > domain is not licensed. There is no copyright holder TO license the
 > > code. With no copyright license, there is no patent license.
 > Whyever not?

Some people want the CC0 to waive any patents held by the copyright
licensor. Let's say that it did. It might say something like "Oh, and
if we have any patents, we won't exercise any rights against people
who are using this code."

What about people who have made slight changes to the code? Is it
still "this code"?
What about people who reinvented that algorithm and are infringing the
What about somebody who has made sufficient changes to the public
domain code to be able to claim a copyright. Does the patent waiver
still apply to them?
What about somebody who got a copy of the public domain code without
the license. Does the patent waiver still apply to them even though
they don't have or need the license to which it is tied?

There may be answers to all of these questions, but they should be put
to a patent licensing committee to sort out.

The real solution is to say that any patent which can be infringed
solely through mental processes, using pencil and paper as a
scratchpad, is invalid. If you go back to the original justification,
software patents were allowed because they could do the same thing as
a machine. Very well, a patent holder should be able to show me the
machine which implements his patent. Whatever happened to the need to
supply a working model? In the software patent field, the inventor
should have to submit a working implementation of the patent. Oh,
can't do that? Sorry, no patent.

But I digress. The CC0 can't license patents because it seeks to be
the public domain, and public domain isn't licensed by anyone.

--my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com
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