The Longest Now

[UTTR] Utter License ∅
Thursday November 06th 2014, 12:34 am
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You may do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this work.♥


License description

UTTR is a minimax license framework: maximal permission in minimal text.
It reserves no rights to the author, granting utter license for reuse.
Designed for inline use in tweets, sections, captions, image credits, &c.

Please use this framework to fit your own limited-space contexts.
Feel free to comment or link back to this page when you do.

Like all licenses, UTTR∅ cannot grant rights the grantor does not own.
Such a complete and unilateral grant implies no warranties.  The license
is optimized for clarity and simplicity, and does not specify such things.
If you love caveats, see the appendix for bulkier alternatives.

Use cases and variants

If used inline in a tweet or other short text, you may wish to enclose it in square brackets:

[You may do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this text ∅]

Capitalized words are a style choice here, as in all licenses.
You can substitute words or replace “work” with a noun describing the work.
You can drop the first two words in a pinch, if pressed for space or meter.
Punctuation and ♥/♡/∅ are optional, as are links to a description such as this.

I needed a terse, maximally permissive license, so I wrote one:
Utter License.
[Do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this tweet ♡]

  Utter License (n.)
  a minimal way to grant
  all rights to a work ♥

[please do ・utterly anything・with these haiku]

  These are copies from bricks found in the ruins of Ur,
the work of Bur-Sin of Ur, which while searching for the
groundplan the Governor of Ur found, and I saw and wrote
out for the marvel of the beholder.    [Utter License ∅]

Utter symbolism

A shorthand for a license, even a terse one, is useful.
Possible shorthands here: UTTR∅, or a single symbol identified with the license.

A symbol should clearly indicate “do utterly anything”/”no rights reserved” – a counterpoint to the © symbol.  It also should already be in common character sets.  Three options are suggested:

  • ∅ is the empty-set in mathematics.
    • Possible variants: the Scandinavian vowel ø Ø.  The ‘diameter’ symbol (⌀). Having 4 similar characters could make auto-detection confusing.
  • ♥/♡ is broadly associated with love, and often with sharing.
    • Possible variants: ❤, emoji, and more.  Again, similar characters can make auto-detection confusing.


Thanks are due to James, MakoMolly, Erin, Andy and others who contributed a few gray cells to this picocuriosity.


Appendix: Alternative license options

There are other terse ways to waive all rights in a work.

  • No Rights Reserved ♥” or “I reserve no rights in this work ” are negative equivalents, clearer than saying “Utter License ∅“, and very short. 
    • In a context where similar items have a “Some rights reserved” mark, this negative formulation is best.  In other contexts, I prefer the positive formulation of Utter License. The license title also parses in English to roughly the meaning of the full license.
  • You can use the name of a license as inline shorthand, and hope that is clear.
    “[public domain]” or “[CC0]” are popular options, and more recognizable as licenses than “[UTTR]”.  This can work well in some contexts – CC0 is a lucky google search.

    • Unfortunately, ‘public domain’ is an overloaded term of art, leading to pedantic reasons why making such a statement may be interpreted as not actually granting all rights that are yours to grant in the work.
    • CC0 is a response to that overload. But it’s elaborate: even the short form is two paragraphs plus a caveat.  The long version has 1000 words of nested caveats, to be extra safe. This legalistic precision is good for some uses (once you’ve parsed the 1000 words, it clarifies dozens of edge cases), but worse for others (you have to parse a long document in a language you may not know well, to confirm the license says what you think it does).
  • The WTFPL is warmly remembered as the first short permissive license, before CC was a twinkle in Lessig’s eye. However on revisiting it isn’t so short, with 6 lines of overhead.  And the 1-line meat of the license does not refer to the work directly, which may make it less effective. Not ideal for inline use.
  • The Unlicense has a crisp first sentence — though it uses “public domain” language and is specific to software. You could use that sentence inline and link to the rest. The rest adds a few paragraphs of detail, to be safe. For software, this is a good option halfway along the caveat-spectrum from UTTR to CC0. They have thoughtful explanations of their wording decisions on the unlicense site.
  • A previous version (UTTR♡3) included a two-character slashed © (©̸) as an optional icon.  But as of 2015 this fails to render on WordPress and Twitter, and in any other short-format environments, making it unsuitable.



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