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CC0 is the Creative Commons designation for "Public Domain", the most permissive way of releasing content. It allows any usage for any reason without permission or restriction. For example, there is no attribution requirement. (Why does CC0 have a bunch of legalese? Because it has to.)

Why CC0

So, why would I do such a thing? Most permissive, open-source licenses at least require attribution. Why don't I want to get credit where it is due?

Are there any counter-arguments?

Yes. Fans of copyleft feel that if you benefit from the labors of the open source community, then you should be encouraged to give back. I say 'encouraged' because nobody is forcing anybody to actually *use* copyleft content. You aren't being punished for not giving back. Rather, you are being rewarded for giving back by having the opportunity to benefit from the existing body of work. After all, the reasoning goes, why *not* release your derived work under copyleft, unless it's just simple greed? If you want to develop closed-source code, go ahead! Knock yourself out! Just don't use any copyleft code.

I think there are two concrete fears:

I believe that these fears have been proven false. With a few notable exceptions (gcc, Linux), most open-source software is not under copyleft. There are plenty of examples of packages which have standard and deluxe forms, with the standard being open-source, and the deluxe being closed. (In many cases, the open-source version simply *lags* the closed version by some period of time, with improvements eventually being released open.) There are enough people who don't need deluxe; so long as the open-source version has value, it will have plenty of user base.

But what about fairness? Isn't it unfair for greedy people to benefit from open source, improve it, and sell it as closed source? Maybe. But how is that different from a chef who uses commonly-available ingredients to cook up his secret recipes for his restaurant? How is it different from an artist who uses "found" materials to create sculpture, and demand copyright protection of his work? Maybe it is no different. Maybe artists should be OK with copying of their work. Maybe chefs should reveal their secret recipes. Maybe the fundamental ethos of the copyleft movement is that it is better for society to allow unrestrictive use of all creative work. Copyleft advocates are not stupid -- they know full well that closed source software is a reality and is here to stay -- but they don't have to like it, and they certainly don't have to *aid* closed-source creators.

So maybe I do get it. Copyleft enthusiasts dislike closed-source developers, and refuse to help them. That's fine. As it happens, I don't dislike them. In fact, I make my living helping to maintain a closed-source system. So I don't mind helping fellow closed-source developers with the fruits of my open-source efforts. Hence, CC0.

That's why.

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