Creative Commons offers alternative to copyright

By Sarah Duffy
October 7, 2004

Musicians, artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers, scientists and students across the country are discovering Creative Commons licenses to maintain creative identity while having their work spread freely across the Internet. Creative Commons is an alternative to copyright, in which creative people make their work free, and completely legal, to copy.

Current copyright laws automatically restrict a user’s ability to copy or reproduce any creative content found on-line. The Creative Commons Project provides an alternative to illegal copying through copyright license, which defines exactly what rights the creator of the content chooses to reserve, and what to give to users.

The Commons represents a common area where people can trade, exchange and build upon their creative work. For example, the University of North Texas has placed their entire library of stock photography under a Creative Commons License. This means that anyone can use those photographs to develop their own work, such as a project or website.

Music can be taken from Creative Commons licensed MP3s and placed as a soundtrack to a video. Authors can put the entirety of a novel under a Creative Commons license, for you to read at your convenience over the Internet. You can find notes on MIT courses, for your own educational advancement or send a film to your friend. The possibilities are endless.

The project began as collaboration between universities studying the effects of the Internet and law. Harvard Law School, University of Toronto, University of Cambridge, MIT, Duke and Villanova have worked to develop the Creative Commons over the past four years.

Designed to enhance users’ interaction with the Internet, while not abusing property rights, the Creative Commons has provided a balanced, and reasonable solution for all. The licenses, for the most part, are internationally sound and iCommons, a derivative of Creative Commons, can be found in 18 countries.

The licenses are tailor-made to the creator’s wishes, and very easy to obtain. Creators can specify whether their work can be used commercially, if they must be attributed with it’s use, or if their work can be modified, providing them with as much or as little copyright protection as they wish.

The people who have placed work under Creative Commons licenses have forfeit some of their rights for the common good. So why are creators doing this? The concept behind free copying of work allows people to spread the word faster. It also builds a base for artists to use others works for their own advancement.

To check out some of what Creative Commons has to offer, go to If you are interested in getting a creative commons license for your own work, you can do that too.

Posted by Web by: Scott Fobes

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Sarah Duffy

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