Creative Commons – Keeping it Open

Here in Great Britain in the 18th century there was a need to protect authors and artists, and publishers, from blatant copying of material by the new technology of the printing press. Our solution was to create a set of measures that form the basis of what we know today as copyright. Other nations followed and eventually we had a near global system of control.

Most of us see the copyright symbol – © – hundreds of times every day, it’s ubiquitous. Understanding of and regard for it is a different matter, people pay varying degrees of attention to it.

I’m comfortable with the concept of protecting people’s income for original work, but I don’t regard my writing on this blog as needing that level of protection. It doesn’t cost me very much to publish so I’m not seeking to protect a high level of investment either. Fortunately, there is an alternative to copyright.

Creative Commons Licensing

If you look to the bottom of this page you will find a section that currently looks like this:

Creative Commons License

This is the license I have chosen for these meagre ramblings. If you click on the link it will take you to a page that explains the license in a human-readable summary format. This explanation shows in broad terms what I am happy for you to do with the information you find contained within and in what context.

Copyright© is basically either all rights reserved or public domain. Creative Commons, however, comes with a set of options. In my case the options roughly translate to:

  • You are free to:
    • Share the material
    • Adapt the material
  • On the condition that:
    • You give me credit
    • It’s for non-commercial purposes
    • You share under the same license as the original if you remix, transform or build upon the material

To put it another way. I’m happy for you to use the material, to share it and even adapt it, but I don’t see why you should make money out of my efforts and hence ask you to share your work under the same licence. Also, it would be good if you gave me some form of credit for the work you have used.

Each of these options can be made either more, or less, restrictive.

I tend to think that it’s better to be open than closed and that is what Create Commons allows me to be, without giving everything away. If I was really being open I would allow Commercial work also, which is something I am thinking about, at Creative Commons they call this Free Cultural Works.

The concept of open is a powerful one and gaining traction all the time, but that’s probably best covered wider on another day.

Creative Commons is integrated into a number of other services.  If you want to search in Google, for instance, for material released under creative commons then you can do so in Advance Search. The same is true on Flickr so I also post my pictures under Creative Commons.

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