Why I license stuff under the CC0

/ 2015-01-18 13:01

You may have noticed on some pages of this site that I license quite some things under CC0. For example, the Blob font and some programs for graphics calculators. That basically means that everyone can do whatever they like with it: you are allowed to use it, modify it, sell it, remove my name from it and say you made it (although that would be kind of rude), and so on. In this article I want to explain why I do this.

The first question is: why do I make them available for free at all? Well, first of all, I doubt whether anyone would pay for the stuff on this site. Secondly, I am a proponent of sharing things, especially software. This website for example was made using free, open-source software (nanoc), and you probably are viewing it using a free, open-source browser (or do you use Internet Explorer? In that case: sigh). It is not more than fair to make my own stuff freely available as well. Also, if you ask money for things, people expect them to work perfectly (or do you use Windows? In that case: sigh). I don’t want to be bothered by that for the things I put on this website.

Well, okay, so I want to make things available for free. Then there are some licenses that can be used to distribute things freely, but that prohibit people from selling it (no commercial use) or claiming it is theirs (obligatory attribution). But let’s face it: am I going to search the Internet for license violations, and send (im)polite letters to people who sell my stuff? No, I’d only do that for things I particularly care about, for example because they took long to make. For most of the things I put online, I don’t really care, and therefore I can just as well put them under the CC0.

In short, I use stricter licenses (CC-BY-SA, GPL, and so on) only when I actually put so much effort in the thing that I would be annoyed if someone took it without acknowledging me. For other things, I just use CC0 — it saves a lot of hassle.