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creative commons licenses

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

Creative Commons is one of the most interesting things I think we’ve covered in this subject. The global nature of the Internet makes it a fascinating thing to study through a legal lens. For centuries, legal systems have been set up in national, state and municipal jurisdictions, and perhaps more recently, in limited-continental jurisdictions (think: the EU).

But the Internet, by it’s very nature is global.

  • So how do you govern it?
  • How do you police it?
  • And how do you put users to trial?

These are difficult questions with essay-long answers. But creative commons makes an attempt to govern the un-governable… or at least provide some form of regulation to internet-based intellectual property. Even in the real world, intellectual property law is a complex area of study. Take this not the virtual world, and IP law takes on a whole new dimension.

According to the CC website:

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

The founders of CC grew frustrated with licensing rights on the internet. If you want to use someone’s material that they’ve uploaded to the internet, it’s often very difficult to determine how they want it to be used (or whether they want it to be used at all). In response, Creative Commons was set up: an “infrastructure” that offers a set of “copyright licenses and tools” that allow people to spell out (in layman’s terms and in legalese) how they want their online material (often intellectual property) to be used.

For example, if I wanted a picture of a grasshopper for the front page of my blog, I could jump onto Google, do a quick search, and before you know it, I’d be met with thousands and thousands of results (1,020,000 actually…). But for most of these images, I’d have great difficult discerning who published the photo, or who can be credited as having taken the photo. So for people who get a moral buzz from accurately crediting the work and intellectual property of other people, they find themselves in quite the quandary.

The Creative Commons licensing system meant that internet users could state from the outset that they are happy (or unhappy) for their material to be used in ways X, Y and Z. The CC website claims that the ability to pre-define how your material is used “create[s] balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law [establishes]”.

For my blog, I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun. So I had a quick browse of CC’s template-license agreements and made my choice.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


This license means that others are welcome to “remix, tweak, and build upon” my material on this blog. As long as their work is “non-commercial”, they credit me, and license their own work “under the identical terms”.

I chose this license for a number of reasons:

  • I am happy to have people “remix” and “tweak” the content of my blog. Having said that, I found that this ‘clause’ was an odd one to apply to a blog such as mine, which mainly consists of text and ideas.
  • I think that it’s important that any users of my work are “non-commercial”. The thought of someone using the text posted here for profit, when I am contributing for free seems most unfair to me.
  • I like to be credited. Who doesn’t?
  • And licensing the work under identical terms. I think that it is vitally important to include this one in any licensing arrangement. Without this it makes it possible for someone to use my material (under the other conditions), and then apply a different license; thus negating my license terms and conditions.

As I said above, the relevance of applying a Creative Commons license to my blog is fairly limited. But I think that the utility provided by CC to internet users who don’t have the time or expertise to draft a legal agreement is very valuable. If I were a visual artist, in a garageband trying to get my music off the ground, or if I was a more active amateur film maker, I would certainly use this valuable resource to protect (and share) the fruits of my labour.

//nickkotzman.

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