[License-review] CC0 decision process, waiting for CC response, etc.

Carl Boettiger cboettig at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 16:42:19 UTC 2012

 Karl Fogel <kfogel at red-bean.com> wrote:

> It might help to take a step back and think about how CC0 could be
> useful to open source.  I had thought of it primarily as part of the
> answer to the many "But what about the public domain?" questions we see
> (at OSI and elsewhere).  But there may be ways to answer those questions
> even without CC0 being an OSI-approved license.  I'm not trying to
> prejudge the question, I'm just saying that the larger context is
> important to bear in mind.  It's not that CC0 is a software license
> already applied to lots of programs -- rather, it's that people have
> questions about the public domain and open source, and CC0 might help
> make them a bit less complicated to answer.  This could be still be true
> whether or not it is approved.

Thanks Karl, I think the bigger picture of what CC0 would offer is
important.  Here's my take:

For me, OSI recognition of CC0 means a consistent and frictionless license
for use & reuse by the scientific community and beyond.  There are often
not sharp divisions between software, code snippets and scripts,
documentation, data files, figures, etc in scientific work, and these lines
are becoming more and more blurred as science moves in a direction to
provide the complete package of research, where data and software are
embedded into documents themselves.  We need one license that can cover all
these "additional products of scientific research," in a way that maximizes
their reuse.  Currently recognized OSI licenses do not appear applicable
for these heterogeneous "additional products."

There's a need for public domain licensing in science, and CC0 has already
been recognized by many players as the best tool available.  The Dryad data
repository requires CC0.  The Panton principles have recommended CC0, as
has the open knowledge foundation.  The Comprehensive R Archive Network
(CRAN) has just acknowledged CC0 as a valid open source license.  R
packages are incidentally excellent illustrations of something that is
licensed as software, but contains software, scripts, manuals, data,
figures, and even complete manuscripts.   Specifying separate licenses for
the data, the software code, the example scripts, the manual, and the
vignettes and documentation would be cumbersome at best.

OSI does not recognize a license that provides a robust way to dedicate
software to the public domain, for which there is a clear and present

It does sound like all the comments largely recognize this, and just want
to make sure CC0 is the best tool for the job.


> >On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 8:27 AM, Tzeng, Nigel H. <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu>
> wrote:
> >> On 2/19/12 3:08 PM, "Russ Nelson" <nelson at crynwr.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>>Patent licensing is a mess. It would be better to establish one policy
> >>>for all OSI-approved licenses, possibly modifying the OSD, than to try
> >>>to piecemeal it one license at a time.
> >>
> >> +1
> >>
> >> As a partial counterpoint to MXM PL, OSI has approved patent grants
> >> explicitly limited to only those patents held by the individual
> >> contributors of the code and not the whole organization they belong to
> in
> >> ECL 2.0.
> >>
> >> Someone attempting to game the system with a patent trap inside software
> >> under an OSI approved licensed could as easily do so with ECL 2.0.  Just
> >> make sure the software devs don't hold the patents in question.  If some
> >> of you try to get ECL revoked on such silly grounds I will be annoyed
> with
> >> you and call you names.
> >>
> >> FWIW I view CC0 as fine as written.  Given the explicit language CC put
> it
> >> there for a reason.  An explanation would be nice but not approving for
> >> that reason strikes me as counter-productive if CC is unwilling to
> >> change/clarify the clause.  I don't see the patent risks as any higher
> >> with or without the clause but I do see the community poorer without a
> CC0
> >> option.
> >>
> >> If you guys have that much heartache park it in that "special purpose
> >> licenses" category.  Which I notice is still pointing at ECL 1.0 and not
> >> 2.0 on the website.
> >>
> >> IANAL, speaking only for me, etc.
> >>
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Carl Boettiger
UC Davis
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