The Unlicense is a template for disclaiming copyright monopoly interest in software you’ve written; in other words, it is a template for dedicating your software to the public domain. It combines a copyright waiver patterned after the very successful public domain SQLite project with the no-warranty statement from the widely-used MIT/X11 license.

Arto Bendiken
Co-Founder and CTO at Haltia.AI.

Autodidact, coder, cypherpunk, entrepreneur, hacker, and maker.


It’s Public Domain Day again, and it’s now been exactly a year since I first introduced the Unlicense.org initiative: an easy-to-use template and process intended to help coders waive their copyright and dedicate all their code to the public domain with no strings attached. It seems a good time for a brief recap of the happenings on this front over the last 365 days.

As discussed on the Unlicense.org mailing list, the notion of “licensing something under the Unlicense” is a not infrequent misunderstanding that calls for better explanations as to the essential difference between licensed, license-free, and unlicensed code. I will attempt to break it back down to the fundamentals and work upwards from there.

I’ve previously written on the motivation that led us to formulate the Unlicense, a template for dedicating your software to the public domain. Today, I will elucidate the rationale for and the provenance of each of the four brief paragraphs (plus footer) that constitute the Unlicense.

Today is Public Domain Day, in honor of which I’m hereby relicensing (or more properly, unlicensing) all of my software into the public domain. As the public domain is these days unfortunately somewhat an obscure concept to many people, and disclaiming copyright interest in open-source software seems at present a relatively rare phenomenon, I will elaborate some on the rationale and implications.