What are the shortcomings of CC0 in comparison with Public Domain?

  1. for author of work?
  2. for users?
  3. for those who modify/extend/change license of original work?
  • 2
    CC0 is essentially a public domain dedication - it attempts to move works into the public domain, and in regions where the concept of public domain does not exist, moves the work to the most possible extent under the law. Note that, in many places, rights cannot be revoked, so the license may not be the "same" in all jurisdictions.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 15:43
  • @DSblizzard can you clarify what "public domain" means to you?
    – lofidevops
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:10
  • @Zizouz212 usually public domain exists (e.g. for things where copyright expired, and sometimes for works made by government employees), but as some author's rights can't be "revoked" you can't put something into the public domain yourself.
    – JanC
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


I don't think CC0 has any shortcomings compared to Public Domain. After all, CC0 was created with the explicit goal of fixing shortcomings of the simple method of writing "this is released to the Public Domain".

As far as I know, the main problem with the concept of "Public Domain" is that it has different implications in different jurisdictions. In particular, some jurisdictions have certain "inalienable" rights that the creator of a work cannot legally disclaim. For example, in Germany the right to be identified as the author cannot be legally disclaimed.

Therefore there was some concern that a simple "this is public domain" notice might not be fully valid in all jurisdictions. The CC0 license was created to address this:

The Problem

Dedicating works to the public domain is difficult if not impossible for those wanting to contribute their works for public use before applicable copyright or database protection terms expire. Few if any jurisdictions have a process for doing so easily and reliably. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as to what rights are automatically granted and how and when they expire or may be voluntarily relinquished. [...]

About CC0 — “No Rights Reserved”

  • All countries that signed & joined the worldwide treaties about author's rights have those inalienable rights, but in some countries "public domain" is defined as "without author's rights", while in others it is defined as "without copyright" (where copyright is an "alienable" subset of author's rights). AFAIK the only country that didn't sign those treaties is North Korea, and Iran signed it but was vetoed from joining by the US govrnment.
    – JanC
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 0:15

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