About Creative Commons

If you’re a fan of Cory Doctorow, read boingboing.net, or compulsively wiki any terms you don’t know, you probably already know what Creative Commons licensing is. If not, hold your horses and I’ll explain.

You know when you see that little C-in-a-Circle motif on a piece of writing? It’ll say “all rights reserved” next to it, and have a date usually, too. It means that what you’re reading is copyrighted, and that the author is exerting his or her control over the copying of that material to the full extent the law allows. And the law allows a lot.

Some of us think that’s going a bit far. After all, what do I care what you do with my writing, so long as you don’t claim it’s your own. The biggest problem for writers in today’s world is not, as some would have you believe, the illegal dissemination of illegitimate copies of our works. The worst thing that can happen for a writer is for no-one to read his or her work at all. As Brandon Sanderson explained about his decision to make all the drafts of his forthcoming book Warbreaker freely downloadable, if someone wants to read your book for free, all they have to do is go to the library. Releasing it online just spreads the word a bit.

So Creative Commons licensing, to put it shortly, is a new kind of social contract between the producer and the consumer. Instead of “all rights reserved,” it’s “some rights reserved.” Instead of “you can only read it if you buy it,” it’s “maybe if you read it then you’ll buy it.” Instead of set in stone, it’s settled on a handshake.

So if you want more information on Creative Commons, which is about more than just writing, but about creativity and the freedom to allow ideas to grow, go to creativecommons.org, or check out this great article from Locus Magazine by Cory Doctorow.

Keep reading, keep writing.


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