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A Guide to Creative Commons: Giving it Away

This post focuses on Creative Commons, a collection of licenses designed help give creators of intellectual property the ability to reduce the strength of their copyright.

Creative Commons was created in 2002 and has since shown a substantial amount of support from the community.  Essentially, when a person creates something they receive a copyright for it automatically.  This copyright gives the copyright holder exclusivity with respect to the rights to sub-license, duplicate, make derivative works, etc. But sometimes the creator wants to share their work and doesn’t want everyone to have to ask them permission to do so.  This is where CC comes into play.  CC is a collection of licenses that strip away varying degrees of your copyright.  You just need to choose the right one for your application.  All CC licenses give up the exclusivity of the right to duplicate the works.  This is extremely helpful in the digital medium, particularly online.

There have been some high profile uses of Creative Commons lately, including Nine Inch Nail’s latest release, Ghosts, MIT’s OpenCourseware and much of Flickr’s content is CC licensed.

One benefit of using Creative Commons is that it increases your chances for exposure on the Internet because people can legally distribute it.  If your market is particularly ethical or committed, you might even be able to earn some money by requesting donations. ala NIN.

The creative commons license wizard will help you select what license is best for your work and your application.  Some places to distribute your CC content include the Internet Archive and Deviant Art.  Or, you can create a Torrent.  You can also post it anywhere you can include a quick blurb about the license.

Creative Commons isn’t for every project, but it has substantially increased the ease at which people can share and collaborate with material online.  I’m all for that.