CC0 and the Unlicense

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Arto Bendiken

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Dec 18, 2010, 8:08:31 AM12/18/10
to Unlicense
In case it's of interest, I'm engaged in an ongoing Identi.ca
conversation with Mike Linksvayer, the vice president of Creative
Commons:

http://identi.ca/conversation/59986314

In short, the folks at Creative Commons are aware of the Unlicense
initiative, and apparently supportive of it.

They have had discussions of expanding the scope of CC-Zero to cover
code, but if that happens, Mr. Linksvayer sees that as complementary
to the Unlicense since both approaches are compatible and
interoperable, both being at base intended as explicit public domain
dedications and copyright waivers, not licenses per se - save as a
backup strategy for backwards jurisdictions.

If the Unlicense and CC0 both become viable options for publishing
public-domain code, then the choice of which one to use becomes almost
just a question of personal brand preference: those more in the
mainstream might perhaps be expected to go with CC0, yet others (such
as many on this mailing list, no doubt) might still prefer the
explicit and strong "opt-out" subtext of the Unlicense.

Thoughts?

--
Arto Bendiken | http://ar.to/

Peter Saint-Andre

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Dec 18, 2010, 8:30:35 AM12/18/10
to unli...@googlegroups.com
Hi Arto!

On 12/18/10 6:08 AM, Arto Bendiken wrote:
> In case it's of interest, I'm engaged in an ongoing Identi.ca
> conversation with Mike Linksvayer, the vice president of Creative
> Commons:
>
> http://identi.ca/conversation/59986314

Well, it's hard to have much of a conversation in 140-character packets.
Perhaps a lengthier medium is in order? (One if by email, two if by blog?)

> In short, the folks at Creative Commons are aware of the Unlicense
> initiative, and apparently supportive of it.
>
> They have had discussions of expanding the scope of CC-Zero to cover
> code,

Are they having such discussions about other CC licenses, or only Zero?

> but if that happens, Mr. Linksvayer sees that as complementary
> to the Unlicense since both approaches are compatible and
> interoperable, both being at base intended as explicit public domain
> dedications and copyright waivers, not licenses per se - save as a
> backup strategy for backwards jurisdictions.

Sounds about right.

> If the Unlicense and CC0 both become viable options for publishing
> public-domain code, then the choice of which one to use becomes almost
> just a question of personal brand preference: those more in the
> mainstream might perhaps be expected to go with CC0, yet others (such
> as many on this mailing list, no doubt) might still prefer the
> explicit and strong "opt-out" subtext of the Unlicense.

I do think it's largely a matter of branding.

Not to criticize Creative Commons because I think they've done a great
job in many respects, but they have too many licenses ("this is
CC-licensed" "which one?" "oh I thought they were all the same"). And
given that CC0 is explicitly *not* a license, I think it muddies the
waters for them to have a license for the public domain (in fact they
have both CC0 and PD because as we know some jurisdictions don't accept
that you can put something directly into the public domain).

From a branding perspective, I really like the term "unlicense". Zero
sounds a bit negative ("it's got zero protection"), and public domain is
a mouthful (and not recognized everywhere). Naturally there's the
question of how you can license something under something called the
"unlicense", so perhaps there's a source of confusion there, too. :)

If anything, I'd like to think about what it would mean for the
unlicense to be expanded beyond code to texts and music and such.
Perhaps that's just CC0 under another name? If so, perhaps it does make
sense to merge the two concepts / "movements" in some way, but I think
that requires further thought and discussion.

That's just my gram of silver, for now. ;-)

Peter

--
Peter Saint-Andre
https://stpeter.im/

Arto Bendiken

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Dec 18, 2010, 9:38:44 AM12/18/10
to Peter Saint-Andre, Unlicense
Hi Peter,

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 2:30 PM, Peter Saint-Andre <stp...@stpeter.im> wrote:
> Hi Arto!
>
> On 12/18/10 6:08 AM, Arto Bendiken wrote:
>> In case it's of interest, I'm engaged in an ongoing Identi.ca
>> conversation with Mike Linksvayer, the vice president of Creative
>> Commons:
>>
>> http://identi.ca/conversation/59986314
>
> Well, it's hard to have much of a conversation in 140-character packets.

True.

> Perhaps a lengthier medium is in order? (One if by email, two if by blog?)

Yes; pending a reply from Mr. Linksvayer as to whether and how one
might get involved in any future Creative Commons discussions on
expanding their scope to cover software, I'll write this all up as a
blog post to make it easy to reference and comment on. I'd be glad if
you might deem it worth linking to from your blog which I suspect has
a rather larger audience.

>> In short, the folks at Creative Commons are aware of the Unlicense
>> initiative, and apparently supportive of it.
>>
>> They have had discussions of expanding the scope of CC-Zero to cover
>> code,
>
> Are they having such discussions about other CC licenses, or only Zero?

I don't know as yet. I would like to imagine that the uptake and
interest the Unlicense has enjoyed over the last year (as I'll need to
detail in a blog post soon; the project list on Unlicense.org is
woefully inadequate) has something to do with it, in which case it
would be specifically about CC0.

After all, broadly equivalent FLOSS license options (from the
permissive MIT/BSD all the way to copyleft GPL) *are* available for
all their other licensing instruments, but the Unlicense ultimately
exists because CC0 left a vacuum for it to exist, by not being
intended for software.

I'm not sure it was clear to anyone, including me, how large that
vacuum was; but by now, a year later, it's perfectly evident that
there's significant and widespread "market demand" for something like
the Unlicense, so it's understandable if they might be interested in
expanding the scope of CC0.

Yes, I do think that this specific confusion exists with regards to
both CC0 and the Unlicense. I am frequently chagrined to see people
say on Twitter or on blogs that they are thinking of "licensing
something under the Unlicense" or that they are "dual-licensing under
the Unlicense and XYZ".

On the other hand, that also goes to show why the Unlicense was so
sorely needed: even if (in certain arbitrary regions of North America,
at least) publishing something into the public domain is as simple as
saying you hereby do so, that still involved too much cognitive
dissonance for people deeply used (or indoctrinated, if you will) to a
"license-required" worldview.

"But everyone has a license file; hence I need a license file; what do
I put in it?" is but one of the many questions the Unlicense seeks to
answer for software projects.

Thus it's perhaps both inevitable and necessary that, at this
relatively early stage in the ongoing transition to a post-copyright
world, people do say contradictory or confused things like "licensing
something under the Unlicense".

Perhaps in another decade or so our common vocabulary will have sped
further past the road bump of licensing, so that the aforementioned
statement will be more widely recognized as nonsensical, with the very
name of initiatives like the Unlicense having helped drive that
change.

> If anything, I'd like to think about what it would mean for the
> unlicense to be expanded beyond code to texts and music and such.
> Perhaps that's just CC0 under another name? If so, perhaps it does make
> sense to merge the two concepts / "movements" in some way, but I think
> that requires further thought and discussion.

I'm not at all opposed to that in principle, but it would need someone
(hint) to step up to drive it since I must admit to being rather less
of a polymath than certain others ;-)

> That's just my gram of silver, for now. ;-)

In return, I offer you this most interesting and gratifying trend
graph, in case you haven't seen it yet:

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=copyright,intellectual+property,patent,+open+source&year_start=1720&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

Andy Elvey

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Dec 18, 2010, 9:33:26 PM12/18/10
to unli...@googlegroups.com
 Hi Arto and everyone - 

I think it is pretty much a branding/personal preference thing. 

My preference is towards Unlicense, mainly because it was *specifically* set up to promote and nurture public-domain stuff, whereas
CC0 is only one of  many "licenses" that CC covers. 

I think it is extremely valuable to have a place like Unlicense which is exclusively aimed at P.D. material.  Ok, CC is useful too, but they
are more broad in their scope, which (imo) somewhat "dilutes" their P.D. support.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not wanting to bag them -
it's just that they are more broad in their coverage.  

I am such a strong P.D. fan that when someone sets up something like Unlicense, which gives P.D. much-needed support, then I
will support it to the hilt.  Just my 2c worth.... :)  

I just think that it is GREAT to see a bit of a resurgence in P.D. software!  I'm doing what I can to modestly help things along too.... :)
- Andy


Arto Bendiken

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Dec 19, 2010, 9:37:38 AM12/19/10
to Andy Elvey, Unlicense
Hi Andy!

On Sun, Dec 19, 2010 at 3:33 AM, Andy Elvey <andy....@paradise.net.nz> wrote:
>  Hi Arto and everyone -
>
> I think it is pretty much a branding/personal preference thing.
>
> My preference is towards Unlicense, mainly because it was *specifically* set
> up to promote and nurture public-domain stuff, whereas
> CC0 is only one of  many "licenses" that CC covers.
>
> I think it is extremely valuable to have a place like Unlicense which is
> exclusively aimed at P.D. material.  Ok, CC is useful too, but they
> are more broad in their scope, which (imo) somewhat "dilutes" their P.D.
> support.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not wanting to bag them -
> it's just that they are more broad in their coverage.

Yes, this is my take as well. The Unlicense might or might not become
mainstream, given the passage of sufficient time, but in the meantime
it presents a clear, focused, and consistent message, as well as a
banner to rally around, to those of us who simply no longer can
imagine copyrighting the code we write.

It's become evident to me over the course of this year that we're a
growing bunch, not a shrinking one as I had feared. We may not be all
that many who have found our way to this particular mailing list, but
there is significant support for the Unlicense in evidence on other
mediums (not least Twitter and Reddit). More on all that in the
first-review blog post to come on Public Domain Day (January 1st,
2011).

> I am such a strong P.D. fan that when someone sets up something like
> Unlicense, which gives P.D. much-needed support, then I
> will support it to the hilt.  Just my 2c worth.... :)
>
> I just think that it is GREAT to see a bit of a resurgence in P.D.
> software!  I'm doing what I can to modestly help things along too.... :)
> - Andy

What you're doing is just impressive all around. I'm keeping
particularly close tabs on any happenings in the Plan 42 repository:

https://github.com/mooseman/plan_42

Note to self: need to add SNAFU and Djehuty to the PD project list at
Unlicense.org.

moshe weitzman

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Dec 20, 2010, 6:36:24 PM12/20/10
to The Unlicense
IMO, supports of UnLicense would do well to encourage Creative Commons
to offer a CC Unlicense. Creative Commons is a familiar brand name
with major financial resources and major recognition. If they add a CC
Unlicense, we would see a huge spike in people who choose our
worldview, and people who at least consider it. To me, this outcome
extremely attractive. Whether Unlicense carries on after the CC
Unlicense is a separate matter. It would be perfectly noble in my mind
to drop our Unlicense and advocate for the CC unlicense.

Sure, there are some branding and confusion issues to work on. They
are solvable, IMO.

Arto Bendiken

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Dec 22, 2010, 6:04:28 AM12/22/10
to Moshe Weitzman, Unlicense
Hey Moshe,

Great to have you on the mailing list!

As per Mr. Linksvayer's suggestion, anyone interested in participating
in future discussions on CC0 might wish to sign up to at least the
low-volume cc-licenses mailing list:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/cc-licenses

The broader cc-community mailing list could be used to pursue the
wider discussion of CC0 vis-a-vis the Unlicense specifically:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/cc-community

I have now personally subscribed to both the aforementioned mailing lists.

I'll mention the potential for collaboration with Creative Commons in
my next blog post about the Unlicense, but I don't myself have the
time to pursue this further at the moment.

However, I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this to go
ahead and take the initiative here, opening up this discussion on the
cc-community mailing list as well.

Mike Linksvayer

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Dec 22, 2010, 11:55:40 AM12/22/10
to The Unlicense
On Dec 18, 5:30 am, Peter Saint-Andre <stpe...@stpeter.im> wrote:
> > They have had discussions of expanding the scope of CC-Zero to cover
> > code,

There have been some discussions about use of CC0 in its present form
for software. IIRC one discussion was for the narrow case in which
someone wants to contribute to a project that requires a contributor
agreement, but the potential contributor doesn't want to, isn't
institutionally able to, or otherwise can't sign -- putting
contributions into the public domain is a way for project to be able
to accept contribution sans CLA. Apparently in some odd cases this
happens, this is not first hand experience. CC doesn't currently have
plans for version CC0 in any timeframe, but if/when we do, it is
definitely worth looking at software use cases.

> Are they having such discussions about other CC licenses, or only Zero?

Absolutely not other CC licenses. CC has always and will continue to
strongly disrecommend using CC licenses for software. They aren't
compatible with existing FLOSS software licenses, the NC and ND ones
aren't compliant with the spirit of FLOSS, and there are more than
enough good and great FLOSS licenses already.

Mike

Arto Bendiken

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Dec 23, 2010, 4:00:17 AM12/23/10
to Mike Linksvayer, Unlicense
Hi Mike!

Thanks for joining the mailing list!

On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 5:55 PM, Mike Linksvayer <mlin...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Dec 18, 5:30 am, Peter Saint-Andre <stpe...@stpeter.im> wrote:
>> > They have had discussions of expanding the scope of CC-Zero to cover
>> > code,
>
> There have been some discussions about use of CC0 in its present form
> for software. IIRC one discussion was for the narrow case in which
> someone wants to contribute to a project that requires a contributor
> agreement, but the potential contributor doesn't want to, isn't
> institutionally able to, or otherwise can't sign -- putting
> contributions into the public domain is a way for project to be able
> to accept contribution sans CLA. Apparently in some odd cases this
> happens, this is not first hand experience. CC doesn't currently have
> plans for version CC0 in any timeframe, but if/when we do, it is
> definitely worth looking at software use cases.

This is not dissimilar to what e.g. the FSF offers as an option:
contributors to GNU projects can either explicitly assign their
copyright to the FSF, or else submit a copyright disclaimer that puts
their contributions into the public domain:

http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_node/Copyright-Papers.html

On many of the larger Unlicense'd projects (in particular, RDF.rb),
we've been very careful to maintain a "paper trail" of such copyright
waivers so that the legal status of the code base is crystal clear,
even if contributing to a public-domain project might reasonably be
considered implicitly sufficient to ensure that the contributions
themselves have also been placed into the public domain.

We've primarily used the following brief copyright waiver template for
this purpose; the language is not dissimilar to CC0:

http://unlicense.org/WAIVER

(Amazingly, no contributors have yet balked at submitting a waiver. I
used to think this might turn out to be the Achilles' heel of the
process, but it's working out just fine.)

>> Are they having such discussions about other CC licenses, or only Zero?
>
> Absolutely not other CC licenses. CC has always and will continue to
> strongly disrecommend using CC licenses for software. They aren't
> compatible with existing FLOSS software licenses, the NC and ND ones
> aren't compliant with the spirit of FLOSS, and there are more than
> enough good and great FLOSS licenses already.

Makes sense. So, it sounds like this might then really just come down
to expanding the CC FAQ entry about software:

http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions#Can_I_use_a_Creative_Commons_license_for_software.3F

...to mention that while the other CC licensing instruments are still
not intended for software, and never will be, CC0 could potentially be
used for such purposes?

Peter Saint-Andre

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Jan 25, 2011, 11:34:54 PM1/25/11
to unli...@googlegroups.com

Very funny. :P

I've got way too many tasks on my to-do list, not to mention 10,000
messages in my inbox, but I'm happy to help.

Mike Linksvayer

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Feb 28, 2012, 1:07:56 PM2/28/12
to unli...@googlegroups.com
The Unlicense was mentioned a few times (once in vain) in recent license-review and license-discuss threads about CC0, archives at http://opensource.org/lists

My overwrought post on the threads at http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/2012/02/25/permissions/ mentions Tav's variation. My point is that we should be more demanding and aggressive about abandoning all possible restrictions.

Speaking of Tav's http://ampify.it/unlicense.html I wonder about patent termination for aggressors in a public domain dedication. I understand why such provisions exist in licenses, and I see the language is copied from that used at http://www.webmproject.org/license/additional/ and other Google projects.

Creative Commons is working on version 4.0 of its licenses now. I expect any future version of CC0 to be pretty far in the future, but I think people interested in public domain dedications or unlicenses if one wishes to say that generally ought be thinking about these issues...

Mike
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