I read this sentence in the full legal text of the CC0 license (emphasis mine):

Affirmer offers the Work as-is and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the Work, express, implied, statutory or otherwise, including without limitation warranties of title, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non infringement, or the absence of latent or other defects, accuracy, or the present or absence of errors, whether or not discoverable, all to the greatest extent permissible under applicable law.

I assume the sentence is correct because it's a legal text covering hundreds of about 72 million works, but I don't understand why the word "present" is used here as a noun when "presence" seems like the proper word.

These are all the definitions for "present" as a noun I found on Wiktionary:

  • The current moment or period of time.
  • The present tense.
  • A gift, especially one given for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, or any other special occasions.
  • (military) The position of a soldier in presenting arms.

All of these definitions do not seem to express what I think is the meaning of the word in this context, i.e. the existence (or non-existence) of errors in the licensed work. It seems like the definition for presence, "The fact or condition of being present, or of being within sight or call, or at hand," fits better.

I'm not seeking legal advice or interpretations of meaning, I'm just wondering why this usage of the word is correct in this context. Which definition of "present" is being used, and why is it correct in this context?

  • 5
    Isn't it more likely to be a mistake? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 24 '18 at 22:49
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    Talking about the presence of errors this seems like perfect lawyer humor here. – Jim Apr 24 '18 at 22:52
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    As far as I can tell, CC0 exists only in version 1.0 (that is what I am given when I use CC's site to public domain something. It is not technically one of the licenses, since you are retaining no rights. – Cuagau Apr 25 '18 at 7:35
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    It seems to me that, as with all PD work, there's no warranty against errors. – Hot Licks Apr 26 '18 at 0:05
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    the presence or absence of errors, not present and absence of. Clearly a mistake. This is not rocket science (yet). – Lambie Jul 25 '18 at 19:09

Here's a link to Version 4 of the Creative Commons license, with the error (present instead of presence) corrected.


Here's a link https://creativecommons.org/2011/04/15/plaintext-versions-of-creative-commons-licenses-and-cc0/ to plain text versions of the various licenses. These seem to be version three (I'd say the web site is difficult to navigate); the CC0 has not changed and includes the error.

Documents in which a set of similar phrases and text is used over and over are subject to error because it becomes extremely difficult for proofreaders to catch the errors; we tend to see what we expect. The brain is faster than the eye.

When proofreaders read wedding announcements for a newspaper, they proof them by reading them out loud (to each other) backwards. One method for finding errors.

Also keep in mind that while these are licenses one can adopt to give permission of one kind or another for use, the development of the licenses is a primarily volunteer or pro bono activity perhaps more subject to error than paid work.

  • Thank you for your answer, it's good to know that my confusion about that sentence was well-founded. As a frequent CC user and supporter, being honest I just asked this question for fun looking to get proven wrong -- so I have to admit I'm shocked that a typo in a legal text used over 72 million times could go unnoticed for about ten years. I'll update when I hear back from the CC team via email, and maybe this post can ultimately result in an improvement! – Harry Apr 26 '18 at 3:00
  • If you could please edit your answer just to clarify that your linked license (CC-BY) is a different text than the one this question is about though (the latest and current version of CC0) and not an upgrade or later version, I'll be happy to accept it! – Harry Apr 26 '18 at 3:04
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    There is another point here: once a license is accepted, it shouldn't be changed (perhaps cannot legally be changed) without "both" parties signing off (initializing). Given that this is a digital license and the people/organization/parties using it cannot all be contacted, it simply is what it is. There can be newer versions to be adopted in the future, but each version is what it is. So there is no improvement that's acceptable. – Xanne Aug 20 '18 at 1:31
  • Yep, turns out it's on the errata, my bad all and thanks for the responses: wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Legalcode_errata#CC0_.281.0.29 – Harry Aug 20 '18 at 1:47

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