The choice of license terms involves decisions about what, if
any restrictions the author wants to put on what people do with the
If you want to make no restrictions at all, you should put your
software in the public domain. An appropriate way to do this would
be to include something like the following text at the head of each
Placed in public domain by J. Random Hacker, 2003. Share and enjoy!
If you do this, you are surrendering your copyright. Anyone can
do anything they like with any part of the text. It doesn't get any
freer than this.
But very little open-source software is actually placed in the
public domain. Some open-source developers want to use
their ownership of the code to ensure that it stays open (these tend
to adopt the GPL). Others simply want to control their legal exposure;
one of the things
open-source licenses have
in common is a disclaimer of warranty.