No rights reserved.

I maintain no copyright or patent restrictions on any of my creative work. As far as copyright and patent law are concerned, I grant you irrevocable permission to do anything with my work that you wish. This is a perfectly free, noncopyleft licence. For example, you may:

Much of the creative work that I produce is a modification derived from other persons' previous work. Since the other persons may reserve legal rights to their work, you might not have legal permission to do what you want with my work, even as far as copyright and patent law are concerned. But that could only be because you did not have permission from the other persons; you already have permission from me.

I request that you give me credit for my work, and that you offer any derivative works and so forth to other people with no conditions, as I have offered this work to you with no conditions. But I will not enforce these requests legally; they are not requirements. You will have to decide for yourself.

If renouncing your entire legal monopoly seems too radical to you, then try a Creative Commons licence for your work; but I strongly recommend that you not use the NonCommercial option. For computer programs, try the GNU General Public License. But I recommend that you not use the GNU Free Documentation License.

Plagiarism etc

Since there is some confusion among people about the purposes of copyrights and patents, let me give an example of what I have not given you permission for. You might copy some material that I wrote and claim that you had written it. Because of the permission granted here, that would not be copyright infringement; but it would still be plagiarism, and your claim to have written it would still be a lie. You might even suffer legal consequences for the plagiarism (perhaps as enforcement of academic standards or even prosecution for fraud). But that would not have anything to do with copyright or patent law; furthermore, it would be the person that you lied to (such as the instructor in your academic course or the person that you tried to defraud) that would be in a position to initiate legal action against you, not me (barring some coincidence). In short, plagiarism and copyright infringement are very different things.

Similarly, I have not given you permission to quote me selectively in order to mislead people about my opinions, to spread personal information that I've asked you to keep secret, to gouge customers who do not realise that what you're selling them is available free online, or otherwise to engage in practices that are unethical for reasons other than copyright and patent monopolies (and were unethical centuries ago before copyrights and patents were invented). But even if you do such things, I still will not use copyright or patent law against you.


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This web page was written between 2002 and 2013 by Toby Bartels, last edited on 2013 April 29. Toby reserves no legal rights to it.

The permanent URI of this web page is http://tobybartels.name/copyright/.