All rights waived

David Croft croft at
Sun May 13 06:31:58 UTC 2001

David Johnson wrote:

 > Hmmm, we'll have to see what the legal experts on the list have to say.
 > However, I'm wondering 'all rights granted' to whom? How about "All 
 > granted to all persons"?

Check out this snippet from the copyright law:

 > Subject to sections 107 through 121, the owner of copyright under 
this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the 

I retract the "All rights granted" proposal since the "rights" in
copyright law refer to the exclusive rights to do and to authorize to do 
as opposed to what one normally thinks of as the non-exclusive "right"
one grants (or permits) a non-copyright holder.

 > Or, "Permission to use this work for any purpose without restriction is
 > hereby granted to all persons." That seems to cover everything in my 

It worries me a bit that some of the licenses treat "use" as just one of 
many potential permissions that can be granted.  Take the MIT license
for example:

 > However, I would still consider the MIT license at the least, for one 
 > reason: it has a warranty disclaimer that must follow the work. That 
 > your butt should the software be sold commercially.

A good point there.  Even if we were to keep the disclaimer as is, can
we boil down the permission statement to something extremely tight?

How about "All rights waived"?  The definition of "waive" in the context 
of the law is "to relinquish (a known right, interest, etc.) 
intentionally" (<>).  Given
that the rights of a copyright holder are the exclusive rights to do and 
to authorize to do, a copyright holder who waived his rights would lose 
the ability to exclude others from the use of the work and to exclude 
others from authorizing others to use the work.

Of course, if it turns out that by stating "All rights waived" a 
copyright holder is indeed placing a work into the Public Domain since 
he is explicitly waiving all copyright rights, stating the following 
could be considered either a contradiction or an instantaneous 
transition:  "Copyright 2001 John Smith.  All rights waived."

You may be wondering why I am so interested in waiving all rights
instead of using an Open Source license to grant permissions.  My
situation is that I wish to incorporate some of my personal code into a
larger work that I am creating for a client.  Looking at it from their
perspective, I can see where it would be simplest if I released my
personal code to the Public Domain (or something akin to it) prior to
integration.  Let's face it:  there aren't many clients out there who
both understand and are willing to manage the obligations and
restrictions of incorporated Open Source code.

My other option is to grant joint ownership without accountability to
any of my pre-existing code that is integrated with the contract work:
"Copyright 2001 Client, Inc. or David Croft".  I had a former employer,
however, who was reluctant to accept this since there was no quid pro
quo for this outside of the original employee agreement.  Should the
employee agreement or portions thereof be held invalid, the employer
might find themselves without the right to create derivative works from
my heavily integrated personal code.  My solution was to declare the
code to be in the Public Domain as it effectively authorizes use without 
the need for a license/contract.  I was happy to do so in that it
avoided a circumstance wherein I would have to rewrite the code once
again from scratch just to simplify the intellectual property concerns.

By the way, my recent clients have been cool enough to accept joint 
ownership without accountability of any "reusable software of general 
applicability that extends beyond the scope and purpose of the software 
developed for the Company under this Agreement".  By having requested 
this contract clause, I am able to integrate any highly reusable 
non-application-specific code, such as an array manipulation library or 
an SML parser, back into my personal library.  I can then turn around 
and release it to the general public under the terms of an Open Source 
license.  While this is not quite the same as being employed directly to 
create Open Source code, it seems to achieve the same effect.

David Wallace Croft
(214) 533-3047 cell

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