I posted the following to the Unlicense Google Group earlier today and figured that some of you might be interested in the proposed Creative Commons Unlicense.
Hi Arto, Mike et al.First of all, congrats for coming up with the term “Unlicense”. It'sgenius! As someone who has been placing all of his work into thepublic domain for most of the last decade, I am very thankful thatthere is finally a concrete movement emerging around unlicensing.Now, if it's okay with you, I'd like to share my journey into theworld of public domain and gradually build up to a proposal of a“Creative Commons Unlicense”.Reflections of a Public Domain AdvocateThey got me before I'd even hit puberty. The UK Intellectual PropertyOffice that is. At school they handed out leaflets on Copyright,Trademarks and Patents. I was mesmerised. Having already written 2books on music and working on various inventions, it was trulyempowering to know that the law would protect my rights as a creator.Being able to dictate how your work is used. Being able to make moneyfrom the royalties generated by your work. Being able to preventothers from abusing your work for their own profit. It made perfectsense. It appealed to that primal desire for being in control.I was so in love with intellectual property that even my school noteshad a copyright statement at the bottom of each page. This continuedall the way till I was 17 when I started my first company. Being atech startup in 1999, it wasn't too long before an inevitableencounter with the open source movement.As you can imagine, this was quite an experience. In fact, it's reallynice to see some familiar faces from those times on this list: MikeLinksvayer (from Bitzi days) and Peter Saint-Andre (from the earlyJabber days).It took a few months, but by the time 2000 began, I was convinced ofthe merits of open source. The copyleft nature of the GPL assuaged myfears of having my work exploited by others. And the success ofprojects like Linux and companies like VA Linux Systems served astangible proof that sharing worked.And so I became one of those annoying free software fanatics. I amsorry to say that I wasted countless hours arguing on various internetforums about the merits of the GPL versus other licenses. But, on theflip side, I did acquire various proprietary initiatives and releasethem as free software.In any case, it was an uphill struggle convincing investors of themerits of open source. It simply did not make sense to them. Manyrefused to invest for that reason alone. And, all the while, I kept tomy belief that a billion-dollar industry was possible by enablingcreators to make money from sharing their works openly.And then finally, in either late 2001 or early 2002, one of myfriends, Tavin Cole, decided to spend an entire day of his lifequestioning my stance on the GPL. To this day I am extremely gratefulfor his effort — he enlightened me on the merits of the public domain.In essence, his argument revolved around the fact that copyleft ismerely an act of control and true freedom would be to enable people todo whatever they pleased with your work. He correctly identified fearas being a prime motivator behind my love affair with the GPL and thatlife would be a lot more pleasant without being gripped by it.With my belief in the GPL shaken, I started experimenting with thepublic domain. Python hackers seemed to public domain their work witha single line, so I adopted a similar practice and added a minimalheader of the format:# Released into the Public Domain by tav <firstname.lastname@example.org>This worked out quite well until 2004 when I moved to Berlin for ayear. Here I came across various German hackers who argued that it wasimpossible to place works into the public domain due to theconsideration of moral rights under German law.I experimented with various structures to try and resolve this issue,e.g. contracts between the individuals and a company based in the UKwhich would then release the intellectual property into the publicdomain, etc. But nothing was really satisfactory until CreativeCommons released the CC0 license.It cleverly combined the public domain dedication with a fallbackpublic license for jurisdictions where one can't fully public domainone's work. Not understanding why CC0 can't be used for code, Iadopted the license with enthusiasm and remixed it with a grant ofpatent rights to create a Public Domain License which I've been usingfor all my work — writing, code, designs, etc.Creative Commons UnlicenseAs you can imagine, it sounded silly to be public domain-ing workunder the Public Domain License — but it seemed good enough.However, once I heard about “Unlicense”, I was smitten by itsawesomeness and have already migrated a few projects, e.g.Now, whilst I've adopted the term wholesale, the text on unlicense.orgdoesn't address a number of concerns:* It is limited to just code. Software projects also tend to havedocumentation, schemas, graphics, etc. It would be nice if theunlicense covered all of these.* It doesn't address moral rights in any way.* It doesn't address patent rights in any way. This becomes even morerelevant when you're receiving patches from organisations who mighthold relevant patents.* It doesn't provide advice on how to refer to the unlicense withinindividual files. I've taken to having the following minimal headerinstead of copying the entire text into every file:# Public Domain (-) 2010-2011 The Ampify Authors. # See the Ampify UNLICENSE file for details.* It doesn't address third party code. Putting an UNLICENSE file inthe root of the repository without such consideration suggests thatall the code files are in the public domain — which may not be true.In an ideal world, we'd all come together and build on CC0 and theUnlicense to create a Creative Commons Unlicense which addresses allof these concerns. I am not sure if this would be of interest toanyone else, but it is of interest to me.I've had a go at remixing the various texts into a new Unlicense:Here is the raw text, including the accompanying authors file:Now I am not a lawyer and the text needs work, but I hope it's a goodstarting point — or, at the very least, provides some idea of what I'mgetting at.Is this of interest to any of you? Could we come together to manifesta Creative Commons Unlicense?Please do let me know what you think.—Cheers, tav