Random Tip: Creative Commons

Creative Commons log

Creative Commons (CC) should be in the vernacular of every college student and professional who relies on works created by others, such as music or images, to enhance their own work. In other words, if you need some background music for a video you’re creating, then CC and their licensing system should be familiar to you. Similarly, if you’re creating new content, you’ll want to know how to share and protect your work.

Legal Stuff (lite): Let me back up for a minute. I’ll try to keep this brief since it’s a common lecture I give. Copyright protects artists/creators from having their work distributed without their permission. Now, granting the right to distribute/use might come with a price tag–a creator can say, “Sure, use my photo however you want, but it’ll cost you $5 (one-time fee) to purchase that right.” Even if there isn’t a copyright policy or fee associated with the photo, it is copyrighted to the original creator by law as soon as it is documented/created (electronically or on paper). I’ll save the extensive explanations for a different post, but just know that just because something is accessible through the internet, does not mean the creator has given permission to use and/or distribute the creation.

Why CC? For creators who want to share their work, and want to be clear about what conditions they’re willing to share their work, Creative Commons provides the language and visual representations (i.e., icons) to be posted with the work. Per CC, “Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work.” If you’ve read copyright law, then you’ll really appreciate CC’s approach to making the law easier to implement. Furthermore, CC’s approach makes it easy for audiences to interpret the creator’s copyright intentions.

CC icons view

This is the “normal” view of icons available through CC. There is also a compact version that just has the abbreviations (e.g., BY) and no icons.

Getting Started: CC makes it easy to get started with figuring out what license you want for your work. For those who really want to understand licenses, I’d start here: Licensing Considerations. It explains the purpose and details about licenses. For those of you (like me) who just want the license, you can get it within two clicks at License Chooser. There are even help buttons to give insights about the legal stuff.

Philosophical Stuff (lite): In a capitalist society, one might question why anyone would share anything willingly for free. Even charging a $1 would turn a bit of a profit for your work. I cannot speak for all artists, obviously, but I do share some of my photos for free (and this blog does not yet have any money generating ads), so I can speak to why I share my work without the expectation of financial compensation. The blog is ad-free at this point because:

  1. I’m lazing and don’t want to figure out what ads would do to my layout and overall appeal of my site.
  2. It was created with the intention to help my colleagues and students.
  3. Creating the posts are a form of stress relief and I fear that money will add stress.

As for my photos that I share on Pixabay, well, that’s all ego…I like seeing people like and download my work. Although users can donate payment through Pixabay, I recognize that users rely on Pixabay because it’s free. Ultimately, I like the idea that someone will use my work as a means to create something even better.

Hannigan Pixabay image screen capture

Here is my ego trip…I can see how many views my photo gets, along with downloads, approvals (thumbs up), saves (star), and comments.

Bonus Content: CC also provides access to content that users have shared (with chosen licenses). Go to Use & Remix to see recent additions to content that is being shared. Each image is marked so you know what you’re clicking into, such as an image, audio file, document, etc.

Screen capture of use and remix page

Here is a view of the Use & Remix section of CC.

Go forth and create! And, respect the copyright.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.