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The Longest Now

[UTTR] Utter License ∅
Thursday November 06th 2014, 12:34 am
Filed under:

UTTR ♡.5

You may do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this work.


UTTR is the world’s shortest license.
It reserves no rights to the author,
and grants utter license for reuse.
Utter License (n.)
a minimal way to grant
all rights to a work 


Usage and variants

By reference:
 ・  – single-character icon, in tables, or after the full name has been used
 ・UTTR or [UTTR ∅] – in a caption or footer (“Licensed under UTTR∅“)
 ・UTTR License –  in a sentence (“We set the UTTR License to music“)

 ・You may do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this dance [UTTR ∅]
 ・Do UTTERLY ANYTHING with this plasmid.
  ・❧ please do・utterly anything・with these haiku 

Capitalized words are a style choice here, as in all licenses.
You can replace the last word with a phrase describing the work.
You can drop the first two words. A closing ∅ helps identify the license.



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

  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.             [UTTR ∅]

UTTR was designed for inline use in tweets, bylines, captions, icons, genes, &c.
It cannot grant rights you don’t own. The unilateral grant implies no warranties.
Ping us if you find creative uses for it. See the Appendix for bulkier alternatives.

Utter symbolism

We wanted a symbol denoting “no rights reserved”, a counterpoint to ©, that is in common character sets.  We chose the empty-set in mathematics, , which has a common variant on mobile keyboards: the vowel ø Ø.


Thanks to James, MakoMolly, Erin, Andy, Tony, and others who contributed gray cells to this nanocuriosity.


Appendix: Alternative license options

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

1: “No Rights Reserved ♥” or “I reserve no rights in this work” are negative equivalents.

  • In a context where similar items have a “Some rights reserved” mark, this formulation is clear.  I prefer the positive formulation of Utter License, as it does not imply that one could or should be able to reserve rights in a work. 

2: You can reference another license, and hope it is clear.  “[PD]”, [public domain]”, and “[CC0]” are popular; CC0 is a lucky google search. However:

  • Public domain’ reads and translates well, but is an overloaded term of art. Some argue that you can’t declare your own work to be “in the public domain”, or that it confusingly suggests you are not the author.
  • CC0 was a detailed response to that overload: the short version is two ¶ plus caveats; the long version has 1000 words of nested caveats, to be safe. This is good for some things, overkill for others.

3: The WTFPL is nostalgically remembered as one of the first short permissive licenses. But it has 6 lines of overhead, including its own © notice, and the heart of the license does not refer to the work directly.

4: The Unlicense (for software) has a crisp first sentence, which you could use inline and link to the rest. This is a fine option for software, halfway between UTTR and CC0. They have clear explanations of their wording on the unlicense site.


  • UTTR ♡.4 removed the two-character slashed © (©̸) as an optional icon.  This does not render reliably on the web, and its failure mode looks like normal ©.
  • UTTR ♡.5 removed the ♡ as an optional icon. It is too widely used to suggest a license without the rest of the name. Retained for version #s.



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