Friday, December 09, 2005

A DMZ for Intellectual Property: Creative Commons Licensing

When talking about the intellectual property aspects of syndicating your creative works, it's generally assumed the choice is Boolean: copyright or public domain.

Well, now there are alternatives...

Once you've decided to utilize syndication technology for marketing your company or yourself, and you start creating content to deliver, questions you'll need to answer are going to be asked (most likely from people in your organization--including the legal department or attorney). Most assuredly, one of those questions will involve intellectual property (IP) rights to the content.

If you're repurposing content that's already created, the decision may already be made for you. The stuff may already bear the ©, ®, or ™ mark. While I am no lawyer (hence my disclaimer here: I’m not offering a legal opinion), these marks indicate the assertion of intellectual property ownership. Decision made, move on.

If the content you're creating is new, you may think you have only one of two IP ownership choices: copyright it, or place it in the public domain.

Not so.

A San Francisco-based organization called Creative Commons is changing all that by expanding creative works licensing choices. Founded in 2001, Creative Commons is a group of very bright people and prestigious institutions of higher learning. It was brought to life through help from the Center for the Public Domain to create what constitutes a sort of 'DMZ' for intellectual property rights: The Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons licensing enables you to share your creative works without giving up your copyright--while not going so far as placing it in the public domain. Creative Commons enables you to offer some of your rights to any member of the public but (as they say on their website) "only on certain conditions."

The beauty of the Creative Commons approach is that you can define rights relative to attribution, commercial/non-commercial use, control of derivative works, and a great innovation they call "share alike" (meaning you give others the right to distribute your derivative works only on condition the re-distributor offers a license identical to the license you've used to govern your work). Great flexibility with rights-retaining control.

Creative Commons website offers simple web-based tools to help you mix and match the attributes of the license you want to create for your content, and then helps you integrate the license into your work. They do all of this without a preponderance of legalize--a fact in which most creatives will delight--but for your legal department they've also crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's.

As you can see by scrolling to the bottom of my blog, I really believe in this approach. From its beginning I've used a Creative Commons license for the content I produce here on RSS Pundit).

Take a few moments and look at their website. The short film does a great job of explaining the concepts.

So, now you have a third choice: "Some Rights Reserved." What you do with the choice is up to you, and I’d love to hear how you choose.

Have a wonderful weekend.


At December 10, 2005 8:59 AM, Anonymous Ryan said...

Way to give the disclaimer. I find I have to give that disclaimer a lot now as well.

The Creative Commons license looks like a very interesting and very useful concept, especially for blogs that are more corporate in nature.


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.