I'm looking at a repository with the BSD-3 license in its LICENSE file, but in which the source files say:

Copyright (c) Big Corp Inc. All rights reserved.

When I redistribute / modify, and include the copyright notice and BSD-3 terms, Do I need to say that "All rights reserved" for Big Corp Inc. ? Even though that is literally not true and they don't reserve all rights? Or is it enough if I say

Copyright (c) Big Corp Inc. 
Modifications Copyright (c) 2020 Joe User.

[BSD-3 terms here]


1 Answer 1


You should not modify the notices in any way and reproduce them verbatim. If the copyright notice says “all rights reserved” leave it be. This is the “default license” anyway. The license text then goes on to grant specific rights, so this is not a restriction on your rights.

Under older copyright regimes (the 1910 Buenos Aires convention), a notice like “all rights reserved” was required to obtain copyright protection. However, this is no longer necessary. The use in a software context is mostly cargo-cult.

  • Copyright is automatic under the Berne convention, without requiring any notices.
  • Since 2000, all Buenos Aires signatories have implemented Berne.
  • Israel signed Berne in 1950.
  • The U.S. switched to the copyright symbol © in the 50s, and finally implemented the Berne convention in 1989. Some open source licenses like MIT or BSD predate this.
  • 1. It seems the two parts of your answer are contradictory... 2. If the code is distributed under the terms of BSD-3, then, literally, not all rights are reserved. Or am I wrong?
    – einpoklum
    Mar 6, 2020 at 13:18
  • The first part of the answer says that the license amounts to “all rights reserved except as granted by this license”. The second part says that the phrase “all rights reserved” is entirely meaningless since at least 2000.
    – amon
    Mar 6, 2020 at 13:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.