Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Should We Use "All Rights Reserved"?

Dear, Rich: I work for a company that is writing course content that will be sold to schools. We are in the process of seeking permission for all copyrighted items, and are providing attribution under the images from the public domain. In addition to providing the author’s name and license information (where applicable), is it safe to write “All rights reserved” for all images even if they are from the public domain? We don’t want students to think they can use the images for other purposes just because we have permission to use them in a specific way, but we don’t want to restrict rights on images that don’t require restriction. Is it ever problematic to write “All rights reserved”? Publishers and content providers have adopted the phrase "All rights reserved" as a conventional but toothless type of copyright notice. In other words, it can't hurt but it has no legal effect. (The use of “All rights reserved” was once required as a condition of copyright protection in certain South American countries but that's no longer the case.) We can understand your desire to limit duplication for licensed works (the ones for which you sought permission) but unless the person licensing the work requires a credit, warning, or other statement, you don't really need to provide the notices. As for placing the warning on public domain images, that seems like overkill and implies that you have rights in the public domain works when you really don't.