Every online content publisher should know about Creative Commons. It is becoming a well established and very important way to handle online copyright for the distribution of free content.
To take the Wikipedia definition:
“The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others legally to build upon and share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one chosen, restrict only certain rights (or none) of the work.”
Since the earliest days of the internet, sharing information on the online has been a legal grey area. In many ways it still is.
The Creative Commons project and the range of licenses they have created is the best attempt to date to address these legal loopholes and bring some order and clarity to free content usage.
The licenses enable a content owner to share his articles, audio or video for free whilst keeping some control over how his work is used. The level of the rights provided by the creator range from giving users complete freedom to mix, mash and freely distribute work through to strict restrictions on all but carefully defined samples (often used by musicians to promote songs).
CC also enables website owners to legally use other peoples content for free whilst respecting and acknowledging the content owners work.
Listen to how Creative Commons describe their service:
The traditional publishing, film and music industry have not embraced Creative Commons, often criticizing it for either being unnecessary or undermining copyright laws. In my opinion it is necessary and it doesn’t undermine copyright law; it provides a useful alternative.
By the end of 2007 over 60 million pieces of content had been registered under these new licenses which suggest there is both a need and demand.