The Creative Commons

Things that are not protected by copyright are said to be part of the Public Domain. When a copyright expires, or if something is, for whatever reason, never subject to copyright, it is part of the Public Domain and free to use for everyone: it is part of the Commons. The Commons includes everything that is in the Public Domain, along with all of the other physical and intellectual resources freely available to anyone who needs to use them.

In 2002 an organization was founded to facilitate adding works protected by copyright to the Commons while maintaining the rights of the creators. The Creative Commons offers a simple system of licenses that authors and artists can use to grant permission for others to use their copyrighted work in ways they approve. Critics complain that users often mistake Creative Commons licenses for Public Domain and forfeiture of all rights, but used correctly, Creative Commons licenses allow an author or artist to make their work available to audiences and fellow creators and to receive the credit they are due. This page is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

License for this website; how to use it, and how not to

For this project I chose to use the CC BY NC SA license. Since the entire purpose of copyright is credit for the author (or owner) of the work, CC BY Attribution is the base license. I added the NC NonCommercial piece because this is an academic exercise, and I do not believe that academic exercises should be recycled for profit by anyone other than their creator. (Moreover, if you are working on a project that you expect to bring you profits, my work is probably not of the calibre you want to reuse.) I added the SA ShareAlike piece because I believe in the Commons: if anyone sees fit to improve upon what I have started here, I want that product to be a part of the Commons as well.

An example of legitimate use
A student in Nousion ’18 stumbles upon this website and decides to adapt my project to encompass all of Collection III. They copy the pages to their website and add quotes and links to other articles, embed better media content, add a page for their IP activity, and replace a few pages that they don’t like. When they’re finished, they cite my work and give it the same CC license (which means they would have to tweak this particular page a lot). Because they attributed my work to me, didn’t make any money, and kept the same license, their use is proper.

An example of illegitimate use
Someone stumbles upon this website and decides that they like my explanation of Fair Use. They copy that explanation to their own website without attributing it to me. Because they failed to even include the most basic part of the license, their use is improper. If I ever found out, I’d send them a friendly email asking for some attribution. I might check back later to see if they complied. Whether or not they complied, I would add to my page that they copied a link to their page with a note to my readers to show where my ideas were being used.


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