Tagging of UNCOPYRIGHTABLE material

Kaelbling, Michael

How should I correctly tag uncopyrightable material?

The U.S. Copyright Office states in https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ33.pdf that some materials are "uncopyrightable because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship."  Examples they give include: names, titles, and blank forms.  Also uncopyrightable are "mere" lists of contents and simple sets of directions.

Currently I have a project that includes empty files as placeholders and markers.  Because such files are uncopyrightable, I am not sure how to tag them.  "NONE" and "NOASSERTION" seem inappropriate.  "NONE" does not imply that none is possible, and "NOASSERTION" is not the same as an assertion of the uncopyrightablility of an object.  It seems inappropriate to claim an unenforceable copyright and license it.

Can we add an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE keyword or license to SPDX?  An UNCOPYRIGHTABLE keyword, like NONE, would not the name of a license file.  While an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE.txt license file could contain text like "this file is inherently uncopyrightable, but you may replace it with copyrightable content".

As a bonus, REUSE.software scans would then be free of false-positives about "missing" copyrights.
SPDX-FileCopyrightText: UNCOPYRIGHTABLE is very different from SPDX-FileCopyrightText: NONE

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