Put another way, every content owner gets full copyright ownership over his or her work, no matter what. Those owners who elect to use a Creative Commons license opt to loosen a very specific subset of those copyright restrictions so as to encourage the use and sharing of their work.
Why Would You Use Creative Commons Licensing?
Traditional copyright “worked very well in the analog world, because in order to disseminate material you had to go through a third party” such as a publisher, Creative Commons communications manager Jane Park told me recently.
In today's Internet-powered world, however, “anyone can publish a Web page, upload a video, et cetera,” Park points out.
That, in turn, requires more flexibility so that content owners have a way to balance protections for their work while enabling it to be shared.
Say you're an independent musician. You likely want as many people as possible to hear your songs; but without a major record label to promote your recordings through the traditional channels (and sucking up all the profits in return), you might choose a Creative Commons license that allows you to give away some of your music for free, while reserving the right to sell your music commercially. You might even want to allow other musicians to produce remixes, as long as they credit your contribution.
Creative Commons licensing also helps end users understand exactly what they can and can't do with your work, thus resolving a major point of confusion. In fact, most users tend to fall into one of two camps, Park says: They're either afraid to do anything at all with your work, or they do what they want with it but assume that they're breaking the law.
“Creative Commons licensing makes it really clear to your audience,” she explains.
Then, too, there's the fact that Creative Commons licenses are ready-made and more or less free.
“Before, you would have had to engage an attorney and have them craft a license for you,” says Anderson Duff, an associate at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks.
Now--assuming there's a license to fit your needs--you can avoid that expense.
The Basics of Creative Commons Licenses
Though multiple Creative Commons licenses are available, they all share several key features. Each helps creators retain copyright while allowing other parties to copy, distribute, and make some use of the work--at least noncommercially.
Each one also ensures that licensors receive credit for their work, and the licenses are valid all around the world and last as long as applicable copyright lasts.
Next Page: The Six Types of Creative Commons Licenses
Six Types of Creative Commons Licenses