Freelance Writers & the Creative Commons – Copyright Part 3

creative commonsThis is the final post, at least for awhile, on copyrights and freelance writers.

The first was triggered when someone asked me, over at AboutFreelanceWriting, what a writer could do if they discovered an article had been used without permission.

It actually turned into a series when I wrote:

Copyrights – What You Need To Know – Part 1

and:

What You Need to Know About International Rights – Part 2.

Creative Commons

Finally there is something new in terms of copyright and that’s the Creative Commons. Wikipedia defines it this way:

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States, devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. (Links removed.)

The idea was to give creators, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, creators of educational material, etc., more say over how, if at all, their works could be used by others. It recognizes that there is often a need for sharing and collaboration that goes beyond the rather simple approach of copyrighted (you can’t use) and public domain (anyone can use and change.)

Here is a quote from Creative Commons that sums it up pretty well I think:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Our free, easy-to-use copyright licensesprovide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

Not everyone agrees

Of course, there are those who think this is a rotten idea. Again, Wikipedia gives a pretty good overview of the objections in the subsection called General Criticism. And it’s not yet clear that a creative commons license is enforceable legally, although that’s gradually changing.

Probably the most obvious place you’ll see creative commons licenses used is on Flickr where a special creative commons search brings up a ton of photos that are licensed under a creative commons license – free to use, free to alter with certain restrictions.

Should you use a creative commons license?

Should you use a creative commons license for your writing? Maybe.

Some of my ebooks are licensed that way – generally allowing no change, but free use provided everything in unaltered and there’s a link back to the original source. My thought is they may get wider distribution – I have no idea if this has actually worked.

I can imagine creating something that I would want to work with others on and a creative commons license might be just the thing.

On the other hand, there are times when I want the more complete protection offered by a copyright.

What rights you keep and what rights you might be willing to share and on what basis is an important consideration for a freelance writer. Please remember, I am not a lawyer and these three articles are meant to be an overview, not a definitive answer.

As always,

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

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