Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The licenses I know, including open source and the less restrictive ones like BSD, make it mandatory to:

  • Retain the copyright notice, and/or:
  • Indicate that the precise part of source code was written by the original author.

Let's say I want to share source code I've written and I want to grant all rights, including the right to:

  • Remove the copyright notice or substitute another one,
  • Sell the source code or use it in a commercial product with no restrictions,
  • Never indicate that this source code was written by me¹,

but at the same time disclaim any warranty as it is the case in BSD license.

Are there licenses which match this case?

Note: public domain is not a solution, since the term is unclear and change from one country to another.


¹ Why would anyone do that? Because we all have pieces of code which are not worth real licensing, but still useful for the community (example: removing diacritics from a text). Providing it "completely free" is in this case much for friendly that saying that in order to use your code, the person must read a few paragraphs or pages of an UNREADABLE ALL CAPITAL text, understand it, accept it, and then copy-paste your name and copyright notice every time the code is used.

share|improve this question
2  
A licence is a definition of what you are allowed to do and what not. Why would you need a license at all if you want to grant all rights? Your only concern would be to disclaim any warranty. Wouldn't a short note suffice for that? Like "do whatever you want with my code, but completely at your own risk. This code might do something harmful, you are warned, do not hold me liable for any effect or side-effect." –  Ray Aug 3 '11 at 18:57
    
@Ray You need a license because anything you write is automatically covered by copyright, limiting what other people can do with it. What open source licenses do is provide others with rights that they do not otherwise have because of copyright laws. –  KeithB Aug 3 '11 at 19:10
    
@KeithB: Without going into detail what is copyrightable and what not, my impression is that a text like "do whatever you want with my code" is good enough to remove any rights I might have. But I must admit I am no lawyer and our world is a strange place, hence I upvoted greyfade's answer, too. –  Ray Aug 3 '11 at 19:26
1  
License Text: "*" –  Glenn Nelson Aug 3 '11 at 19:26
2  
@Ray Trying to apply logic once the lawyers get involved is generally a losing game :) In a sane world, what you said makes perfect sense, and is all that should be required. Or just the ability to say (p) Public Domain. –  KeithB Aug 3 '11 at 19:44
add comment

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Creative Commons Zero is the closest you will get to dedicating a work to the Public Domain, largely because it's simply not possible to commit a work to PD in most countries.

share|improve this answer
add comment

When it comes down to it, unless a license has been successfully defended in legal proceedings in a particular jurisdiction, it has the same problems that public domain does. Given that you are trying to do this with as little effort as possible, I would just include a statement saying something like

> This code is released to the public domain. You may use it however you want, for whatever you want, including claiming it as your own.

If this isn't satisfactory to a particular user, they any other license probably won't be either.

An alternative is to use a variation of the MIT license, removing the part about requiring the notice to be kept on copies.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think this is essentially what you are looking for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL It is the WTF public license. It states:

DO WHAT THE F*** YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
               Version 2, December 2004

Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <sam@hocevar.net>

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified
copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long
as the name is changed.

       DO WHAT THE F*** YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION

0. You just DO WHAT THE F*** YOU WANT TO.
share|improve this answer
    
Also, you can disclaim any warranty etc. in your source code somewhere. As long as you state that I think you are just as protected as you are with any license. –  Paul Aug 3 '11 at 19:49
1  
Hard to take such a license seriously, although I suppose it does make its point. –  Robert Harvey Aug 3 '11 at 19:54
2  
I wonder what would happen if some large project released their source code under this license... That would be hilarious –  TheLQ Aug 3 '11 at 19:55
    
That would be pretty funny. Apparently there are at least 27 projects that have been released with it. –  Paul Aug 3 '11 at 19:59
    
@TheLQ If it's worth anything, someone would immediately claim ownership of the project and re-publish it under a different license and maybe a different name. Or someone will figure out some clever, far-fetched reason to sue the developer. –  Rei Miyasaka Aug 3 '11 at 22:30
show 2 more comments

The WTFPL the pauleck1 mentioned is a goodie. Also there is the Beerware one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beerware

/*
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
 * <phk@FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you
 * can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think
 * this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return Poul-Henning Kamp
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 */

Basically you could just put any notice you want at the top of your code to convey the (lack of) conditions.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 I'll use that somewhere for sure :D –  x3ro Aug 4 '11 at 1:31
add comment

What you want is not possible because your requirements conflict. If someone can remove your copyright notice, how can you disclaim any warranty? Someone could just remove your disclaimer and then distribute the code to someone else who could argue that they had no idea there was no warranty.

The closest to what you want to do, in the United States, is to put a notice stating that you disclaim all warranties and place the work in the public domain. Placing the work in the public domain should sever your legal connection to the code.

share|improve this answer
    
Well, previous answers show that it is possible. By the way, if someone grab my code and distribute it without disclaimer, it is this person who will provide the warranty, not me. For example, nothing forbids a company to use my source code as their own while covering it with their own warranty. Also, as explained below, public domain is not a solution. –  MainMa Aug 13 '11 at 14:24
    
The other person won't provide a warranty. They'll disappear. The person harmed will have no idea how they got the code until they search for it on the Internet, and then they'll find out you wrote it. They will then prove in court that you didn't take reasonable steps to ensure they were notified that there was no warranty or that it wasn't suitable for their application. I don't see why placing it in the public domain doesn't meet your requirements in the United States. –  David Schwartz Aug 13 '11 at 15:37
    
+1. Interesting approach. Even if I'm pretty sure that it's not how it happens in court, I must search more deeply to be sure. –  MainMa Aug 13 '11 at 16:07
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.