I was going through this wikipedia article and I could not understand the real difference between the CC0 license and the CC Public Domain license.

Basically if I am releasing my creation into public domain, would it not be enough if I just use CC Public Domain license?

Why would anyone use CC0? What is their difference?


There are jurisdictions that do not allow authors to place their work in the public domain, such as Germany.

Main reason is the strict monistic approach the German copyright law bases on. Key feature of this approach is the concept that, in principle, the copyright/author’s right itself can neither be transferred to another person nor waived by the author herself. The German author’s right consists of two parts, the moral rights and the exploitation rights. The moral rights are – as a rule – personal rights that are bound to the person of the creator (or, after her death, her legal heirs), i.e. they can neither be transferred nor waived. Since moral and exploitation rights are considered as inseparable parts of the author’s right as a whole (monistic approach) the exploitation rights cannot – in principle – transferred or waived by contract as well.

CC0 is supposed to get you as close to the public domain as possible in your legal system.

CC0 helps solve this problem by giving creators a way to waive all their copyright and related rights in their works to the fullest extent allowed by law. CC0 is a universal instrument that is not adapted to the laws of any particular legal jurisdiction, similar to many open source software licenses.


Wikipedia is not an authoritative source regarding Creative Commons, but it does have historically useful information. CC does have a thing called Public Domain Mark 1.0, which asserts

This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

The thing they call CC0, labeled "Public Domain Dedication" provides a slightly different legal assertion

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

The two differ (at this level of comparison) in that the former says that there was no right at all (this "license" is simply information), and the latter (CC0 version 1) says that the rights in the work have been waived – to the extent allowed by law. The "legal code" is more verbose: it enumerates the protections that the rights-holder "hereby overtly, fully, permanently, irrevocably and unconditionally waives, abandons, and surrenders". The license also says that in case it is determined that some part of the wording that waives rights is deemed to be no good, then the rights-holder grants a very unrestrictive license. The CC Wiki take on the distinction is here, and basically says that it has to do with "is already free of restriction" versus "is hereby dedicated to the public domain". An example would be a work of the US government, the IRS's instruction booklet for income taxes, which are automatically in the public domain per 17 USC 105 (although "public domain" is not a term in the copyright statutes, which say that protection is not avilable).

  • The CC Public domain mark is for marking works that already are in the public domain (typically because their copyright has expired - that happens 70 years after the death of the creator in most jurisdictions).

  • The CC0 dedication legal tool can only be used for a copyrighted work where the copyright is held by the person using the tool (the work's owner). It is used to indicate that owner of the work wants the work to be in the public domain (or be treated as if it was), even if the owner is alive and well.

Not all jurisdictions permit authors to place their works in the public domain while they are alive. In those jurisdictions, CC0 grants the widest possible permissions.

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