[License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Mon Feb 27 01:12:47 UTC 2012

Thorsten Glaser, while advocating for license categories, wrote:

> Uh oh. I hope this doesn’t open too much controverse. It’s 2am here so

> please excuse any glaring errors.


I'll excuse you (for whatever that matters) but I won't let your comments ride unchallenged. :-)


Whether you deal with patents or any of the myriad other permutations of rules that can be plugged into open source licenses, there are no easy license categories. We've tried before here, and the resulting categorizations have been nearly useless to simplify the distinctions. Consider, for example, OSI's current categories [1] where they classify as "redundant with more popular licenses" ones that actually address patents in unique and interesting and helpful ways. A popularity contest here resulted in a category called "Other/Miscellaneous Licenses" despite the fact that there's nothing miscellaneous about the ways some of those licenses deal with patents and copyrights. As another example, I'll give you $5 if you can identify anywhere on the OSI website what is special purpose about any of OSI's so-called "Special Purpose Licenses". Perhaps I should state my point more strongly still: Categories of FOSS licenses with labels and sloppy thought behind them are worse than useless; they are misleading.


Even though the CC0 license doesn't deal directly with patents in ways that developers of software might prefer, or deals with both patents and copyrights in jurisdictionally questionable ways, that doesn't justify that we reject it. There is nothing we have identified about the CC0 license that comes close to violating any of the provisions of the OSD. We have approved licenses we don't like in the past -- after arguing about them at length. The existing list of OSI-approved licenses includes many that we have argued are patent-deficient. 


There is an excellent law journal, the IFOSS Law Review [2], where we can educate each other about the strengths and deficiencies of various licenses. OSI is not a replacement for that educational activity. I'm sure IFOSSLR would welcome a quality article that discusses the potential value and risks of the CC0 license for software. 


Now that we have driven our Creative Commons friends into the closet, can we please invite them back and approve their CC0 license even though many of us don't really like it a lot? Then someone document this thread in an article for IFOSSLR so that the public at large can learn from this discussion.




[1] http://opensource.org/licenses/category 

[2] http://www.ifosslr.org/ifosslr 



Lawrence Rosen

Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com) 

3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

Cell: 707-478-8932

Apache Software Foundation, board member (www.apache.org) 

Open Web Foundation, board member (www.openwebfoundation.org) 

Stanford University, Instructor in Law

Author, Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law (Prentice Hall 2004)



> -----Original Message-----

> From: license-review-bounces at opensource.org [mailto:license-review-

> bounces at opensource.org] On Behalf Of Thorsten Glaser

> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 5:08 PM

> To: license-review at opensource.org

> Subject: Re: [License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process


> Lawrence Rosen dixit:


> >opinions about patents. For that reason, among others, I'd rather

> approve

> >CC0 with all its uncertainties than wait for the world to change.


> Some days ago, in one of the CC0 threads, I suggested to have a second

> class of licence approval, for those who meet more standards than just

> being a copyright licence that is OSD compliant.


> How about this? Licences for the second set are drawn from the general

> set of all OSI approved licences, but need not stay in it forever (OSI

> doesn’t revoke approval once granted and not in error), such as when a

> new version comes out. It would address issues beyond OSD. It need not

> make the regular OSI approval mean less, but considering basically any

> OSD compliant licence ought to get it…


> As for the additional standards, they should be simple. I think if you

> say that the licence must give all rights (copyright, patent, database

> and trademark, at least) the distributor can give and allow them to be

> passed on, we get it, for a while. (If that can be done with trademark

> law; otherwise, there should be a note why it’s excluded.) Being writ-

> ten or edited by a legal professional could be another; being current,

> the final one, allowing for swapping in a replacement.


> Uh oh. I hope this doesn’t open too much controverse. It’s 2am here so

> please excuse any glaring errors.


> gn8,

> //mirabilos

> --

> [...] if maybe ext3fs wasn't a better pick, or jfs, or maybe reiserfs,

> oh but

> what about xfs, and if only i had waited until reiser4 was ready... in

> the be-

> ginning, there was ffs, and in the middle, there was ffs, and at the

> end, there

> was still ffs, and the sys admins knew it was good. :)  -- Ted Unangst

> über *fs

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