Subject: Re: For Approval: The Simplified BSD License
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 12:54:24 -0700

Quoting David Woolley (

> For open source licences, it very much matters what the computerist 
> thinks, because it is normally they that have to choose and interpret 
> and obey the licence.

Yes, it is thus important that, e.g., open source / free-software
licences be comprehensible by mere mortals.  However, c'mon.  It really
doesn't require a lot of intelligence to understand that the traditional
term of art 'All Rights Reserved' does not nullify software licences.

>> What matters is that judges (and people with at least a passing
>> acquaintance with the traditions of copyright law will read the
>> situation as intended.
> I agree that they will realise that the phrase is being used without
> meaning....

Mr Woolley, the phrase 'All Rights Reserved' does not lack _meaning_. 
It means 'all rights not explicitly conveyed are reserved to the
copyright owner'.  Arguably, that was always true by default operation
of statute even pre-Berne, but this is the belt-and-suspenders approach
common in the language of business law.  What it lacks, under the
current Berne copyright regime, is _legal force_ -- except, per my
understanding, if your work is first published in Honduras.

> ...but I think they will then read the rest of the licence in the 
> context of having been written by someone that cut and paste codes their 
> legal documents, and therefore be more likely to give the benefit of 
> doubt against the author for other parts of the licence.

No.  The judge is going to read 'All Rights Reserved' as meaning what it
has always meant.

Cheers,                            To you, this thought         Alot
Rick Moen                          I gently allot:              Isnot                                             Aword.