4

Reading the comments to the answer of this question, it seems that the Unlicense presents legal problems in countries like Germany. This is because German law doesn't permit simply waiving all copyright and placing your work into the public domain.

The WTFPL avoids this by going a similar route to more traditional free licenses like MIT, namely explicitly granting all possible rights without actually waiving ownership of copyright. Now, this means it has some problems of its own, for instance the lack of a liability disclaimer. Ignoring that, however, is the license as it stands applicable globally? For instance, can it be used in Germany to allow anyone to use the software for any purpose without fear? If not, what jurisdictions would have a problem with it?

To clarify, by "problem" I mean the law preventing the license from applying as stated, or severely violating its spirit. For instance, it appears that Norway has a law that forces anyone performing CC0 music to pay a few to a government agency, which clearly goes against what the license tried to achieve; Germany, from what I gather, simply doesn't support putting works into public domain, so you could sue someone for using a Unlicense-published work, which goes directly against the license as written.


Here is the full text of the license for easy reference:

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

 Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <[email protected]> 

 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 FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE 
   TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION 

  0. You just DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO.
2

1 Answer 1

1

It is valid in the sense that the licensor allows copying, distribution, and modification for any and every purpose. The WTFPL is a very permissive license, not an attempt to waive copyright, so it would almost certainly be valid in Germany too. (CC0 falls back to being a permissive license wherever copyright can't be waived, so it should be valid too.)

License agreements can't absolve you of your duty to follow the law, though. If you you want to use WTFPL-licensed software to 3D-print a machine gun, for example, section 0 can't and won't save you even if you're following it to the letter. And if the government says you have to pay it a fee to perform a copyrighted work, then by default, you have to pay. WTFPL-licensed works are still copyrighted works, after all.

4
  • How about its effect on patents? This is another frequent criticism of CC0. I'm assuming that since it doesn't mention anything (unlike, say, GPL and CC0 which both have explicit clauses - although with opposite effect), this will default to being handled by the jursdiction's law and will therefore vary accross the world?
    – user18745
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 16:25
  • Sort of. It can vary, but the variation is generally in what control the patent holder has, how long it lasts, etc. Infringement of the author's patents is basically a non-issue unless the author asserts their rights...and someone releasing under the WTFPL almost certainly doesn't care about reserving or asserting their rights. If the work is based on someone else's patents, though, then there's a problem.
    – cHao
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 19:33
  • >Infringement of the author's patents is basically a non-issue unless the author asserts their rights...and someone releasing under the WTFPL almost certainly doesn't care about reserving or asserting their rights. Sounds like a recipe for people to set this bait on purpose, wait a couple of decades and then sue for patents.
    – Akito
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 14:01
  • They could try, but facilitating the infringement of your own patents might make them unenforceable.
    – cHao
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 21:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .