[open-science] Fwd: [License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process

Carl Boettiger cboettig at gmail.com
Mon Feb 27 17:03:15 UTC 2012

Hi Open Science,

A few weeks ago Creative Commons submitted the CC0 license to the Open
Source Initiative (OSI) for approval as an open source license.  Three days
ago they withdrew the application after concerns that it's fallback licence
explicitly stated that it refers to copyright, not patents,  (section 4a).
 I am forwarding their withdrawal message below.  The full thread can be
found on the OSI archive:

I think this is very unfortunate. I do not know of a widely recognized open
source license that is appropriate to share data, code, figures,
documentation and text may be found in a single object, such as my lab
notebook, R packages, or dynamic document (in which code and data are


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Christopher Allan Webber <cwebber at creativecommons.org>
Date: Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM
Subject: [License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process
To: license-review at opensource.org

Hello all,

We've discussed this internally, and unfortunately we agree that it's
best to withdraw CC0 from the OSI review process at this time.  There
have been several issues raised around the language declaring patents
out of scope in the tool (that they weaken equitable estoppel defenses
against patents or that they heighten risk by putting someone "on
notice" about patent risks in the associated code).

There have been questions about why that lanugage is there.  First of
all, speculation that we did not anticipate CC0 usage for software at
the time is true.  The patent language that exists comes out of
conversations with the scientific data community, whom were a large
target of adoption for the tool.  This community felt strongly that
there was a need to clearly waive something into the public domain
without also waiving patents in the process.  Hence the language.

It has been suggested that CC simply remove this text from the CC0
legalcode.  This would of course require releasing a new version, as
we can't change the 1.0 legalcode once it has been released.
Unfortunately, even doing a small versioning of something with as
straightforward of an action as this is not as simple as it might
sound.  First of all, releasing a new version of a legal tool,
including CC0, requires a large conversation between many parties and
experts, and thus inevitably is not a quick task.  On top of this, the
CC 4.0 process is in full swing, and there is not enough bandwidth
within the organization to do a CC0 revisioning at the same time.
Thus, beginning the process for a new version of CC0 would have to
wait until CC 4.0 is out, which means that won't start until at
least 2013.

That said, this experience has certainly been informative, and will be
taken into consideration in possible future CC0 versioning, should
that happen.

 - Christopher Allan Webber and Creative Commons
License-review mailing list
License-review at opensource.org

Carl Boettiger
UC Davis
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