Re: Tagging of UNCOPYRIGHTABLE material

J Lovejoy

oh geez, sorry all - Steve already pointed you all to that discussion!  I missed that URL - my bad!

On Mar 9, 2020, at 8:56 AM, Steve Winslow <swinslow@...> wrote:

Hi Michael, David and Max,

Thanks for your emails. A couple of comments:

Regarding the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark: For items to be added to the SPDX License List, among other requirements there needs to be a corresponding "matching text" that represents the entry that actually goes on the list. You can see these in the texts that are used at and Is there a corresponding text that is associated with Creative Commons' Public Domain Mark? From some brief searching I'm not coming across one. If there is one then I would encourage adding an issue at with a link to the text, so that it can be reviewed and considered.

Regarding a more general UNCOPYRIGHTABLE identifier, I would suggest reading the Legal Team's comments on this from April 2013 at


On Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 10:41 AM David A. Wheeler <dwheeler@...> wrote:
michael.kaelbling@... [2020-03-09 10:45 +0100]:
> 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.

Max Mehl - Programme Manager - Free Software Foundation Europe Contact and information:
>Actually, that's one of the two options REUSE suggests:
> * Add a copyright and licensing header anyway
> * Use CC0-1.0 as a license to waive your copyright (I know, the concept
>  of public domain can become complicated depending on the legislation)
> The full FAQ item on this issue:

As Creative Commons says, "CC0 should not be used to mark works already free of known copyright and database restrictions and in the public domain throughout the world." The CC0 is intended for the *release* of items to the public domain that would otherwise be copyrighted.

Years ago Creative Commons created a separate item, the "Public Domain Mark", to identify works that were *already* in the public domain:

This discussion reveals an important omission: The SPDX license list needs to add the Creative Commons "public domain mark". Yes, from some points of view it's technically not a license, but when you're trying to figure out what rights the recipient has, it is *definitely* a license.... it's just a license (permission) granted directly through the application of law. The SDPX license currently includes the "Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication and Certification" which combined the features of both, but that was retired years ago and split up into the CC0 and the public domain mark.

--- David A. Wheeler

Steve Winslow
Director of Strategic Programs
The Linux Foundation

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