[theme-reviewers] License: None (Public Domain)

Bryan Hadaway bhadaway at gmail.com
Thu May 15 12:16:00 UTC 2014

More than you want to read...

Public Domain is compatible with everything because it has no license, it
isn't licensed, it actually requires no decleration of any kind, however,
people get confused or scared so it then does need to be declared so people
know they're not stealing.

A good example would be a pile of plywood set out by someone's curb.
Someone may eventually take it, but they may be confused as to the status
of said wood. However, if the "owner" were to go out and put up a sign that
says "Free Wood" the intentions are now clear to everyone, although the
status of the wood itself never actually changed.

So, one could say something is Public Domain (like they could say the air
is free to breathe), they're not declaring a license, they're releasing the
burden of all licenses, which should actually be assumed unless one
explicitly specifies a license.

CC0, Unlicense, WTFPL etc. are all basically pointless.

However, one distinction that exists no matter what is the trademark, which
is different from the copyright (license). So, even if a work is released
with no copyright license, it does not mean that you can take that work,
name and all and claim it to be your own creation. But, outside of that,
under fair use, you can pretty much can do whatever you want with it,
that's clearly the author's intention.

When you release something with a name or logo or some other signifying
mark (that isn't generic) it is automatically trademarked under common law
(whether you like it or not, at least in the US). So while one can declare
no copyright license, I'm not even sure there's a common way to declare no
trademark because a trademark is bigger than its creator, a trademark is
more important to consumers, to help them avoid brand confusion, fakes,
knock-offs, scams etc.

You could choose to not protect your your marks, which is irresponsible
because even if your work is public domain, when you go to release an
update, if the general public is unsure of what website is the official one
etc. they may find themselves downloading it from some alternate, malicious
source that has put something nasty in it.

>From here, the conversation gets a whole lot bigger and even philosophical,
so we'll just leave it to the facts.
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