I'm open sourcing a proprietary codebase (license TBD, probably Apache) were all files have the header:

Copyright <company name>. All rights reserved.

Should this line be preserved in addition to the license header, or replaced by it?

I'm planning to use a DCO rather than CLA for external contributions (if that makes any difference).

  • With that (or any) license, the 'all rights reserved' is a bit superfluous or even contradictory May 26, 2021 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


It is good to have a copyright notice next to the license notice in your files. That give the users of your code some indication who the rights holders are.

A properly formatted copyright notice has the format

Copyright <year> <rights holder>

where the year is a list or range of years in which (copyright-significant) changes to the file were published and rights holder is the name of the person or legal entity that owns the copyrights on those changes.

If there are multiple contributors at different times, then you can have a separate copyright notice for each of them. If there are really many contributors, people tend to combine the list or rights holders in a smaller number of copyright notices.

The "All rights reserved" indication you have I would recommend to drop, as it is contradictory to the license indication that follows and can cause confusion.


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