free software

FSF recommends CC0 for code snippets in documentation

cwebber, May 27th, 2011

This week Brett Smith of the Free Software Foundation has announced a new publication, How to choose a license for your own work. It is good to see the FSF making such a document; hopefully it can help reduce confusion and time spent for developers working on new projects and give guidance to help reduce license proliferation.

There are several interesting things in this document, amongst which is the recommendation of the Apache License 2.0 license for non-copyleft works (the announcement gives some insight into the thinking that lead to this). But from Creative Commons’ perspective the most interesting part of the article is certainly the recommendation of CC0 for code snippets in documentation. From the document:

Some documentation includes software source code. For instance, a manual for a programming language might include examples for readers to follow. You should both include these in the manual under the FDL’s terms, and release them under another license that’s appropriate for software. Doing so helps make it easy to use the code in other projects. We recommend that you dedicate small pieces of code to the public domain using CC0, and distribute larger pieces under the same license that the associated software project uses.

This announcement comes on the heels of our other recent announcement that CC0 is now recognized as acceptable for software and is compatible with the GPL, something we worked on carefully with the Free Software Foundation to clarify. It is good to see results coming out of this collaboration and we hope to see more collaboration with the FSF and more practical uses of CC0 for software in the future.

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