LICENSE: base-files and use of CC0 - public domain

Jari Aalto
Thu Oct 25 17:50:00 GMT 2012

2012-10-25 17:17 Warren Young
2012-10-25 17:17 Warren Young
| On 10/25/2012 12:43 AM, Jari Aalto wrote:
| >
| >According to:
| >
| >     git clone git:// base-files.git
| >
| >
| > May files are put out using CC0 license[1]. I'm wondering this as it is
| > to my understanding recommended only for data (images, pure data files,
| > databases etc.), or for code snippets that accompany documentation
| > (e.g. code presented in manual).
| According to the OSI FAQ item you pointed to, the problem is that
| the CC0 license doesn't stay mum on the subject of patent and
| trademark release, and it doesn't fork over all rights to relevant
| P&T's.  Other than that, what you have is basically BSD 3-clause in
| the worst case, where the local laws don't allow public domain.
| How is this a problem again?  Are there patents and trademarks owned
| by these contributors that we think we will want to use in the
| future?

Neither OSI, nor FSF recommend use of "public domain" for Open Source
software. FSF recommends use of existing licences (GNU licences, Apache
...), likewise OSI:

    "We recommend that you always apply an approved Open Source license to
    software you are releasing, rather than try to
    waive copyright [= put into public domain] altogether."

Attorney Lawrence Rosen has written a nice summary:

    In "Why the Public Domain Isn’t a License":

        ... the “public domain” solution for free and open source software
        is largely irrelevant (...)

        ... This “Give-It-Away” license provides no protection for anyone
        if the donated software causes harm (...) one [cannot] escape a
        lawsuit just because his gift was only accidentally harmful. As any
        lawyer will warn his client, the risk of such a license is far
        greater than the warm feelings that enrich the soul of the giver
        (...) If you give software away, you may retain a risky warranty
    [Lawrence Rosen, an attorney with Rosenlaw and Einschlag who previously
    led OSI's legal work]

CC0 seems to be good for its intended use: the data. But not for software,
as the Creative commons spokesman, Christopher Allan Webber, explained in
his CC0 withdrawal message:

    ... First of all, speculation that we did not anticipate CC0 usage for
    software at the time is true. [CC0 was designed for use in scientific


Regarding all the above and the base-files, I wonder why something was
initially put under CC0. Sounds odd if we consider it is in the core of

If "utmost free" were the initial intention -- What was wrong with the
BSD[1] or MIT licenses, which are desinged to be Open Source software

I hope CC0 was not mistakenly considered to be "just another licence" only
because it was released by Creative Commons.


- - -

[1] For interested, Attorney Lawrence Rosen isn't particularly in favor of
BSD license due to its possible inclarities regarding patents. See his
comment in another public domain license thread

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