Re: Is an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE License (or keyword) needed? #poll

David A. Wheeler

> A new poll has been created…

I would prefer another option NOT in the poll (and thus have not voted): Treat it as just another license statement. There are multiple ways this kind of “uncopyrightable” assertion is made, and I think that specific form should be captured as a license statement.


New entries should be created for at least the “CC Public Domain Mark” and the situation where someone in the US government does it as part of official duties & doesn’t claim a copyright. There’s a discussion going on here:


Treating it like “everything else” means there are no special cases for SPDX, *and* you get finer-grained information.


For those who object & say that “there is no license”, well, “license” is just synonym for “permission”, and in this case the permission is granted by the way the legal systems work. So it’s a permission granted by the underlying mechanisms of law J.  I think the *users* of SPDX will appreciate the simplicity of *not* needing another special case.



From: spdx@... <spdx@...> On Behalf Of michael.kaelbling@...
Sent: Friday, March 6, 2020 5:51 AM
To: spdx@...
Subject: [spdx] Is an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE License (or keyword) needed? #poll


The U.S. Copyright Office considers some works uncopyrightable "because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship", e.g. "words and short phrases ... titles ... names", "mere listing of ... contents, or a simple set of directions...", and  blank forms  ( 

SPDX-License-Identifier: NONE and SPDX-CopyrightText: NONE state that there is no license or copyright statement, but do not say that none is needed or possible.

SPDX-License-Identifer: NOASSERTION and SPDX-CopyrightText: NOASSERTION is similarly inappropriate.

A scan will produce false-positives if it has no way to distinguish the case of uncopyrightable material.  This issue came up because my group has empty files (placeholders) and blank forms (templates) in OSS.  Since we require a clean scan on each build, we have to maintain a workaround to eliminate the false positives.
My apologies if you find this poll inappropriate: I thought I had submitted this concern weeks ago as a message, but I am now unable to find it -- nor have I got any response. Therefore I am taking this route to get my question addressed.

1. Yes - an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE License is needed
2. Yes - an UNCOPYRIGHTABLE keyword is needed
3. No
4. No - simply claim an unenforceable copyright and license

Vote Now

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