20 July 2005

Creative Commons

by Anton Piatek

I came across a rather slating article on Creative Commons:,1895,1838249,00.asp

This article imples that creative commons is a useless and stupid idea. Most notibly, the author think that the public domain part of creative commons is useless. Well, the public domain part of creative commons is indeed the ususal public domain licence, but it specifically states that it is in the public domain. While the author questions whether people really do not know what public domain means, I can only see that most people have no idea. Sure, some law savvy people will know, but I feel that most people have no idea what it means they can do with material that is in the public domain. The creative commons licence states what rights they have, so that everyone may know!

As for his remarks that creative commons licencing reduces the authors rights on the work… Well, yes! That is the point!

If one does not state any licence with published work, then by default other people have no rights other than those of fair use (e.g. quoting small pieces of the work).

Let me give you an example.
If I write a short story, and put it on the web. You have no right to email it, nor print it from my website.

If however I release it under a creative commons licence, I may allow you to print it, or email it to anyone you desire. Surely this is a good thing for any work that you do not want to hoard to yourself until 75 years after you are dead.

Why limit it to non-commercial use? I have to say that they author shows little intelligence by asking this question. Why should I produce some work, and then give it to other people to sell and make money from?

If a commercial company wants to reproduce something under a creative commons licence, all they have to do is ask the author, and they can give them permission to publish it, whether in return for a fee, a percentage of profits, or even for free!

The creative commons licence is not useless. It opens up work to those that wish to use it. Yes, by default it restricts it to non-commerical, but if you are sure that you do not want to make any money on it, then you can always release it to the public domain!

In the comments of the article, which i did not respond as I have no wish to be spammed by the site when I register, someone asks if they buy a painting from a friend, whether they have the rights to make copies of it and sell them. Well, NO. Unless the artist specifically agrees to it then they have no right to reproduce the work, even though they own the original. Of course, the artwork could always be released under a creative commons licence, and then you may make copies to send to friends or put on your website, but you do not have the right to copy it otherwise. You did not buy the right to do so, only the right to display the original. (the issue of charging people to view the work i do not know the answer to)

The above example is the same for photographs. You are not allowed to make copies of your wedding photographs even though you may have paid a photographer to take them, unless the photographer states that you can!