The Term "All Rights Reserved" Explained

The Term "All Rights Reserved" Explained

by Brette Sember, Esq., February 2019

Copyright is the legal ownership of a type of fixed creative work, such as a book, song, computer program, or architectural work. Protecting your copyright is essential so that no one can use it without your permission. Using the words "all rights reserved" can be part of your copyright protection strategy.

How to Get a Copyright

Becoming the owner of a copyright is simpler than you might imagine. The moment you create your work, you own the copyright—you don't have to register your copyright or give any kind of notice on the work itself.

However, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is a smart move as it makes it easier to enforce your copyright if there is infringement, or use of your work without your permission. The registration provides clear proof you are the owner. If anyone wants to use your copyrighted work, they must obtain a license from you to do so.

Copyright Statements

You are not required to put a copyright statement on any work you create, whether you've registered it or not, but it can be a good idea to indicate you own the copyright, simply because it is a deterrent for unauthorized use of your work.

A common example of a copyright statement can be found on the back of the title pages in books, indicating the year the copyright was created, the name of the owner, and the rights that are held. Most people retain all rights to their copyright, but it is possible to reserve only some rights or, if you want the work to be completely in the public domain, no rights at all. In the notice, you state what type of rights you are keeping by using the terms "all rights reserved" or "some rights reserved." The latter phrase allows others to use your work but only under the terms you provide, such as only if proper credit is given or only in specific situations, such as for educational purposes. It is up to you to define those terms.

An example of a copyright notice is "©2019 Mary Smith. All Rights Reserved." If your LLC owns the copyright, you would use the name of the LLC in the copyright statement, for example: ©2019 Happy People LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Commons Licenses

A nonprofit organization called Creative Commons is seeking to reform copyright law and practices through its licensing system, where you can download licensing language that allows you to choose the type of reuse you want to permit, usually noncommercial uses, at no charge.

You can place the Creative Commons license on your work or upload your work to a platform, such as Flickr, that has Creative Commons licensing options built in. If your work is in print or online, the organization also has language or code you can download to place on your work, indicating the type of license you are allowing.

To assist in enforcing all of the rights and to retain whatever rights you've selected, be sure to register your copyright. You can do this on your own or with the help of an attorney. Doing so will give you peace of mind and help protect your "all rights reserved" status.