[License-review] Submitting CC0 for OSI approval

Russ Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Mon Feb 20 04:34:50 UTC 2012

Clark C. Evans writes:
 > On Sun, Feb 19, 2012, at 08:08 PM, Russ Nelson wrote:
 > > Thanks for pointing that out, Richard. I think we dropped the ball
 > > with that license approval. It would have been a *good* thing to have
 > > a freely copyable implementation of patented software.
 > Patent holders are more than welcome to release reference works 
 > with a license that deliberately witholds patent rights.  However,
 > it doesn't mean the OSI should be approving these sorts of things.

Why? Our imprinteur means NOTHING as regards patent rights. ABSOLUTELY
ZIPPO. Because the people who gave you the software are the least
likely to sue you for using it. Regardless of estoppel, there is
reliance (if you encourage somebody to infringe your own intellectual
property, a judge is going to look very very askance as you bring suit
against them. As in: you have close to zero chance of winning such a

The real risk of patented software comes from a patent troll. Such
people are non-practicing, and have nothing to fear from your
defensive patents. You have no patent waiver from them, because they
didn't write the software you're using.

 > It's just horrible for a patent armed author that wishes for an OSI 
 > approved license to push their "reference implementations" with.

They don't need a different license approved. All they need to do is
use the BSD license and say "This software is open source because it
uses an OSI-approved license, and by the way, we explicitly disclaim
the existence of an implicit patent license."

Nobody has ever done that. Nothing is stopping them. How would WE stop
them? Dis-approve of the BSD license? They'll switch to the MIT
license. Dis-approve of the MI.... etc.

What you want, OSI cannot give you.

 > On Sun, Feb 19, 2012, at 08:10 PM, Russ Nelson wrote:
 > > Clark C. Evans writes:
 > >  > The problem with the CC0 is that it could possibly be a trojan
 > >  > horse... otherwise appearing to be a gift license but lacking a
 > >  > criticial component needed to be viable glue for the constrution of
 > >  > permissive works.
 > > 
 > > Huh?
 > I'm sorry for using an obtuse (and perhaps paranoid) analogy.

Nothing stops somebody from using the BSD license to do exactly what
you fear; yet nobody has ever done that.

 > Then, after a critical adoption mass is there, and night has fallen,
 > what I had presumed was a Gift becomes a Lawsuit.  Exactly the sort
 > of thing that I trusted the OSI to protect me from.

The law protects you from that. It's called "reliance". But again,
your fear is misplaced. Phear the patent troll, not the author of some
piece of software you want to use.

--my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com
Crynwr supports open source software
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