Archive | December 19, 2015

Creative Commons

I’m a huge lover of the Creative Commons licensing – licensing which allows you, as the content creator, to retain rights to your work, but at the same time allows others to use your work in varying capacities – from the right to re-publish it as is (such as using a photo or poem on a blog or website) to allowing them to adapt your work (such as manipulating the photo) and even for commercial purposes (using that photo in an advertisement or on a webpage), with the only stipulation being that they must credit you (This is very important and a lot of people skip it – big no-no).

I offer ALL of my photos and most of my artwork under a CC license, with the idea that people WILL use it – they will remix it, they will illustrate articles with it, they will make business cards and book covers (I actually made three wrap around [paperback] book covers for a lady who had had another designer do her front/ebook covers – and guess what? Though she did not know they had used my photos – ha ha!) And this is the point of the CC license: to share in whatever way you’re comfortable sharing. But sharing is the point of the licenses. For example this is the MOST restrictive of all licenses:


This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

So…with this in mind, maybe someone can explain to me how something is licensed with a CC license and then says RIGHT under the license :”You may NOT share, copy, or reproduce this material without express written permission”? It doesn’t say “CC non-commercial unless you obtain permission” it says “This is Creative Commons but no one can use it unless I grant them the right to use it.”


Maybe I have a weak grasp of licensing, but from where I’m standing that is NOT Creative Commons, it’s a regular ALL Rights Reserved – meaning that in order to have the “right” to use/reproduce you have to get – you guessed it – permission. Not that it isn’t “nice” to get permission when you want to use something (and considering the number of ignorant licensers out there is good for protecting yourself!) even if it’s CC, but nice and required are two different things.  (As Smashing Magazine explains “Informing the author is courteous but not required.” exactly.)

Something else I think people are unaware of is that the license – once applied – is irrevocable. Meaning if I offer my photo as a CC license, you use it under the licenses terms and I change my mind (or, as often happens on Flickr I never meant to post is as a CC image at all but was too lazy/uninformed to change the default setting, so it posted as a CC license) then I can not stop you from using it. I can stop new people, but I can’t stop anyone who started using it before I changed my mind/figured out that “duh!” I need to check my Flickr settings.

The point of this blog? Know what you’re talking about before you start waving licenses around. Labeling something CC when you don’t mean it will just make you angry (“They stole my work – that I *accidentally* offered freely!”) and frustrate others. If you want all of your rights reserved, then license your work as All Rights Reserved. If you want to allow people to use your work (to whatever degree) then license it as the appropriate CC or Public Domain. Either way, RESEARCH instead of just throwing out a bunch of words. If you need somewhere to start, here are some links.

FAQs for CC licenses

About CC licenses

Public Domain explained

Understanding Copyrights

Great infographic explaining licenses

If you want to know more, hit google. And remember, don’t license unless you mean it.

Jo 🙂

P.S. Sorry if this seemed ranty, but it is one of my pet peeves!

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