Share your work, but still get credit. [First published July 2006, and updated for this post.]
When businesses create publications and other works they usually copyright it all and charge lots of money to those who wish to use it. On the other hand, many community groups and individuals are motivated more by the desire to share information and resources, but would still like their expenditure of time and energy to be recognised. Such people can use a Creative Commons licence.
That’s how this blog works, for example. I’m happy for people to use my work in other places, as long as I get credit. I’m also happy for others to build on and extend my work — that increases its usefulness and allows others to add more value — but again, I should receive credit for my part of the work. While I’m giving my work away free, I’m not happy for others to charge for it though — I’m far from being a millionaire and need to pay for my groceries like anyone else.
Creative Commons licences allow you to attach conditions to work you produce — for example, you may specify that others can build on your work, but they must acknowledge you as the original author, and may not charge for the new publication. Creative Commons licences are free, easy to obtain, and increasingly popular.
Four key principles.
There are four key principles, summarised here:
- Attribution: others must give you credit in the way you request.
- Noncommercial: others may or may not profit from your work.
- Derivative works: others may or may not build upon your original work.
- Share alike: if others build on your work you may require them to share it rather than selling it.
Two excellent, clear and straightforward online comics explain the principles and how to choose the licence that works for you:
Exhibit the licence.
To obtain a Creative Commons licence make a couple of choices in an online form. Click the Select a Licence button. A new web page appears, giving you text and HTML code you can add to your work.
Here’s a text example:
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
While this is the same thing for a web page:
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons is International
There are licenses available for many jurisdictions:
Creative Commons International (CCi) works to “port” the core Creative Commons Licenses to different copyright legislations around the world. The porting process involves both linguistically translating the licenses and legally adapting them to particular jurisdictions.
And also generic licenses:
Our generic licenses are jurisdiction-agnostic: they do not mention any particular jurisdiction’s laws or statutes or contain any sort of choice-of-law provision. The licenses are, however, based on the U.S. Copyright Act in many respects.
Something to think about.
If you own the rights to work you have created, then a Creative Commons licence may be appropriate for it. There are useful guidelines and thinking points at the Creative Commons website. It’s worth having a look, and thinking about how to release the resources you’ve created. And it’s not just for print or websites; there are licences for music, video and photos too.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, July 2006. This article has been updated and modified from the original.