License conflict?


#1

Just noticed these types of copyright/license headers in the atom-shell source code

// Copyright (c) 2013 GitHub, Inc. All rights reserved.
// Use of this source code is governed by the MIT license that can be
// found in the LICENSE file.

I’m not a lawyer (or similar), but I’m pretty sure there are conflicts here. You cannot both use the MIT license, yet reserve all rights. The whole point of an open source license is that very few (if any) rights are reserved. I’m pretty sure the “All rights reserved.” part needs to be removed to avoid conflicting terms. The clue to this is to actually read the MIT license, which specifically states that anyone obtaining a copy of the software has rights to redistribute, modify and what not, as long as the copyright notice (e.g. the LICENSE file) is redistributed as well.

/cc @zcbenz @kevinsawicki @benogle @nathansobo


#2

I am also not a lawyer … but … I’ve done a lot of reading of what they say about copyright, trademarks and licenses. This pattern is common and I parse it like this:

  1. Copyright → I made this
  2. All rights reserved → I reserve all of my rights under copyright for myself … including the right of licensing my copyrighted material how I choose
  3. License → I grant others license to use my copyrighted material in certain ways … and in so doing this does not reduce my rights under copyright

So copyright is about establishing my rights as the copyright holder. And licensing is about granting certain capabilities to others without invalidating my rights.


#3

Adding copyright is completely valid, but reserving all rights, yet claiming to use the MIT license is in conflict AFAIK. They are mutually exclusive.

The MIT License (MIT)

Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM,
OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN
THE SOFTWARE.

The “All rights reserved” part is, to me at least, clearly in conflict with these license terms. You cannot both reserve all rights, yet also grant rights. You can’t have it both ways :see_no_evil:


#4

I might be completely mistaking this though. I know the Apache license usually has a line stating “All rights reserved”, so I guess maybe they begin by stating all rights are reserved, except when certain conditions are met?


P.S. Maybe this belongs in a different category, or none at all?


#5

You can … because they are different sets of rights. They are my rights as copyright holder. And the rights I grant to third parties.

But really, it’s all lawyer gobbledygook and boilerplate:


#6

There’s a few open source licenses that use this phrase btw, like the BSD license. I think it’s meant to be interpreted as @leedohm says.


#7

@thomajo Mind opening an issue on atom/atom-shell so we can cc the legal team at GitHub to see what they have to say?

Thanks!


#8

Done! https://github.com/atom/atom-shell/issues/762