Creative Commons licensing makes sharing simple

Creative Commons has been around for several years, but my conversation about copyright law with Summer Huggins last week made me think it’s time for a reminder about this great service.

I grew up on The Cluetrain Manifesto. I can even still make a great argument for why your information wants to be free, but for most folks, that’s not a real business possibility. But many individuals and businesses just automatically mark all their content — words, images, audio, video — with “All Rights Reserved,” the most restrictive copyright notice out there.

For some content, that makes sense. But often, we use the Internet as a distribution channel because we want people to share our content. Often, we’re not even as interested in whether we make money off the sharing; it’s spreading the word that matters.

When that’s the case, you need to use one of the licensing options offered by Creative Commons.

You’ll notice the Creative Commons logo at the bottom of this blog — a “By-Share Alike” license. I allow my work to be re-used on other sites as long as people give me credit with a link back to this site, and as long as they also allow it to be re-used from their site in the same way.

But Creative Commons offers a wide variety of licenses, even if you don’t want to be as liberal with your content as I do. Other options allow you to limit commercial uses or derivative works of your content.

Creative Commons doesn’t manage the distribution of your content — it simply provides a licensing framework that’s becoming well-accepted online. When you’re managing content online, you can certainly choose to do so with the same restrictions that many people expect for printed or recorded content. But take the time to think through your business goals — and when it makes more sense to allow greater usage of your content, try a Creative Commons licensing option to make your life a little easier.