Late last night, I wanted to write a blog post which quoted a portion of someone else’s copyrighted work. After researching fair use legislation (and finding out that the UK equivalent is fair dealing), it seemed that what I was doing constituted criticism, review and news reporting under the terms of fair dealing in the United Kingdom Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) but I was caught up in a haze of legal doubt. I made clear that I was not the originator of this work, credited the artists but even so I felt that I needed to disclaim my use of the work on the blog post and I’m no legal expert – what if I’ve got it all wrong? I’m not making vast sums of money from this blog and what if I get sued?
Whilst my problem related to copyrighted work and fair use/fair dealing is very vague, there is an answer for content publishers who do want to share their work – it’s been around for a while now and is really starting to get some traction – that answer is Creative Commons. I first heard about Creative Commons on an episode of TWiT a year or so back and when I recently redesigned this website, I turned it over to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License – effectively retaining some rights over the work whilst allowing others to use it in the manner that I see fit.
Basically, if anything is copyrighted (and under many jurisdictions it is automatically copyrighted – whether or not the Â© symbol is displayed) then permission is required to use it (subject to the vagaries of fair use/fair dealing). Creative Commons licenses are intended to make it easy to skip intermidiaries and to grant others permission to use creative works.
Creative Commons licenses are standard copyright licenses provided free of charge via the Internet. Written for lawyers and courts, they are translated for people, and again for computers. The are used to retain copyright whilst granting permission for certain uses, subject to some conditions (images are from Creative Commons):
Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give credit the way you request.
Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.
No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.
Any content may be protected with Creative Commons license, e.g. files, photos, drawings, websites, films, sounds, books, or weblogs – there is even a Creative Commons search engine.
To find out more, watch the video clip below: