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Copyright: Consider a Creative Commons License

 
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Fennec
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Joined: 29 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:57 am    Post subject: Copyright: Consider a Creative Commons License Reply with quote

Okay, I was in #kwkat chattering about this, and someone suggested I explain it here. So here goes. This post is about LICENSING, and copyrights.

First, you should have a basic understanding of copyright - many people are confused, or have misconceptions. Copyright law is complex, and I am not a lawyer (consult one if you need to, of course), but in short, a copyright means that you own the content, and can legally move to stop people from distributing it all over the place. Don't confuse copyrights with trademarks. The word "Pepsi" is not copyrighted: I can write it without fear of being sued. However, it is a trademark, so I can't say that this is hereby titled the Pepsi Guide to Copyright: that could potentially get me sued, especially if I were selling something in that name. You can hear about legal issues with this and the superbowl: you're not really legally allowed to create a "superbowl" promotion for your radio station, or a special for your sports bar, because the people in charge of the Superbowl have the word trademarked. But I digress.

Anything which is written, drawn, or otherwise created is legally considered copyrighted in the United States from the moment it is created. You don't need to file any forms or pay any fees- (though if you're going to go into the publishing business or something, you should at least consider it).

Anything not copyrighted is public domain, which legally means that anyone can do whatever they want with it, as far as copyright is concerned. (Libel, slander, and other illegal stuff is still bad, however.)

So. suppose you want to share your art, or stories, or whatever. You want it online, so people can use them. It's cool, and friendly-like. If you want to release your work into the public domain, you can recite the magical incantation "I hereby release this into the public domain" on your site and consider it done; it will also become public domain after you wait a long enough time (depending on how many copyright extension acts Congress has passed lately - it's a pretty long time). But if you place your work in the public domain, you can't (legally) do anything about stopping people from changing it or selling it or anything like that. Instead, you could release it under a license.

A license means that you retain the copyright, but you also give people permission to use the (still copyrighted!) content under the license. Now, if you want to, you could just say "You can use these images under such and such rules", and use that as a license, but that's not very good legalese, and if you ever ended up in court or something, these things tend to get a little weak. Wouldn't it be great if you could get someone to do the legalese for you?

Enter the Creative Commons. They "enable copyright holders to grant some of their rights to the public while retaining others, through a variety of licensing and contract schemes, which may include dedication to the public domain or open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems which current copyright laws create for the sharing of information." [1].

So, if you want to release your work for others to see, for free, you should consider a Creative Commons license. There are several available, identified by quick two letter sequences. They allow people to share the work any way they want, if they follow the license- sticking them up on another website, for instance. All of the current Creative Commons license require attribution (BY), so they still can't (legally) claim that it's their own work, or that it magically sprung up from the ground. You can also prohibit commercial use (NC) - selling your work, or using it in a way to make money. If you want to, you can also force any derivitive works to be released under the same license, in a "share alike" form (SA), or you can prohibit derivative works altogether (ND). The "share-alike" clause is also sometimes called copyleft.

Of course, if you want to later let someone use the work under another license, or let someone publish it (commercial use), you can do that too. You still own the copyright!

The best part about Creative Commons licenses is that they have two forms- the legalese, and a quick summary for other people. The CC-BY-NC-ND license has this "human-readable deed", which makes sense to regular people, and this legalese (lawyer-readable deed), if you ever see someone in court. Imagine- a copyright license you can actually understand! That's like all those End User License Agreement boxes in all the programs you install, except in three sentences. Amazing, no? Very Happy

The Creative Commons licenses are the "de facto" standard for free content on the web. If you put up your own license, and someone wants to do something with your stuff, things can get confusing fast: Bob will let people use his work if they send an email, Fred wants a URL to link back, Larry will allow anything as long as it doesn't involve weasels or the British navy... you get the idea, no? But with Creative Commons licenses, it makes understanding what you're allowed to do easy.


So, if you want to do this CC thing, the official web site is http://creativecommons.org. If you just want a list of licenses, you can look at that page as well, or you can use the Choose a License form. (This also points you at the cool special buttons and links to use. Smile

A last word of caution- Understand what you're agreeing to before you license your work. If you make your work available under a license, and give people permission to use it in this manner, you can't just take it back. And if you're under a CC license, the idea is to let people share it. If you want to force people to come to your page to view your work, however, then don't use one.

This post is hereby made available under a Creative Commons license.
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hikaru
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Joined: 20 Nov 2000
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Location: Kansas City, KS, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post. Thanks for putting it up!
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Tenshi
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can we get this under a sticky or note to come back to it?

i just dont have the time atm to scroll through it, and am horridly curious on how it all works.

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hikaru
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Consider it stickied.... Smile
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kodayu
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Joined: 24 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I think the Creative Commons License is a very beneficial creation but there is one downside to it that should not be left unmentioned...
The CCL has been created in the US under the guidelines of US law and it is not recognized as an international license yet. As far as I know the UK is about to adopt it and the EU has taken certain steps too, but outside of these territories the legal status of the CCL has not been clarified yet.

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beno
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Joined: 29 May 2005
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Location: Liverpool, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting stuff. It'll come in handy, thanks. However, have you got any advice on copyright/licensing for fansites for TV shows or fanfics? What I mean to say is, is that there's a TV show I've just made a fansite for, and I'm writing fanfiction to put up on the site. Some of the site's content is original (What I wrote) and some isn't (pictures from the show, etc.) How should I go about copyrighting the original content?
Thanks Very Happy

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Elfen_Furry
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've kept my mouth shut for so long until now.

Fennec and I argued about this when he first posted this up.

My arguement, due to why I am a registered copyright holder of many ideas and productions (stories, software code, art, etc.). Full protection of the copyright is only done when full agrrement is abided by the law of copyright. Any agreement outside the copyright or in lue of the copyright laws, violates all terms of the copyright and makes your ideas and creatations vulnerable to take over by others.

In short, if you give up any rights to the copyright, you give them all up and when you need legal or court representation when protecting your ideas, they wont be there for you. You loose your case and you pay for court fees and any damages the judge might side against you.

Agreements might be fine with many on the internet, or other publishing/vreative forums/media/outlets, but if you want true protetction of the law (national and international), a registered copyright is a must.

Sit down and read them.
(This post © EF, EM, FG.)

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