Why You Need Creative Commons… Now

This article originally ran in our 2007 DUCF program, but because I think it’s so important for everyone to know about, I’ve reposted it here.

If you’ve ever put your craft goods online in a blog post, for sale on Etsy, or even a few photos on Flickr, you need to make sure your work is protected under a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons, commonly referred to as CC, was started in 2001. A group of cyber experts watch over the policies, making sure makers of all mediums are protected. The first project was a set of copyright licenses open to the public to use for free in 2002. Take a look at CC’s mission statement:

“Thus, a single goal unites Creative Commons’ current and future projects: to build a layer of reasonable, flexible copyright in the face of increasingly restrictive default rules.”

So how does it work?

CC is much like open source software – by picking a specific set of “rules” for your work, you are allowing others to use your work, too, on a variety of levels. The licenses are:

  • Attribution: You may use others’ work, but you must give them full credit when doing so.
  • Non-commerical: Others are allowed to use your work, but they may not do so if it’s for commercial purposes.
  • No Derivative Works: You may copy, distribute, display or perform someone’s work only- if you want to build upon it, you must ask for permission.
  • Share Alike: Someone may distribute your work so long as they’re using your original CC license.

You may combine one or all of these licenses into a custom agreement for your work. Once you’ve picked a license, you can display a “button” on your blog, Flickr account, etc., to let others know how they may use your work.

Of course, you can license your work to completely copyrighted, meaning may not use it for any purpose at all.

So, why does CC matter? Good question.

Our society is continually moving to an all-digital world. So much of our lives revolve around the Internet. It’s so much easier, than it really ever has been, to find things online, whether it’s a song, a photo, or a craft project idea. You’ve got friends who download music illegally, take images (that they don’t own) from web sites to use for their own work, etc. CC helps others know that you’re protective of your hard work and watch over it closely. If you have a CC license on something and it’s used the wrong way, you can take action to make sure proper credit is given.

CC is easy to use. You don’t need to sign any legal documents and you can update or change your license at any time. Need further convincing? Handmade Detroit operates under a CC; no further reasons needed!

To learn more for yourself, make sure to check out www.creativecommons.org.