- Books, Literature, and Writing
How to Use the Creative Commons License
What is the Creative Commons License?
Before learning how to use the Creative Commons License one must know what it is....According to Wikipedia, "A Creative Commons license is one of several public copyright licenses that allow the distribution of copyrighted works." Excellent news for writers, being allowed to use copyrighted works that is. Wait though, there's more....the rest says, "as long as they abide by the conditions the author has specified."
Hmm, have we opened a can of worms here? You can use copyrighted work but you have to do it the way the author says. Not really bad because the bottom line is there is NO CHARGE!
We all know when you want to use a copyrighted item you need to contact the author/owner to gain permission. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time that author/owner is going to give you a "reasonable deal" to use his work.....his idea of reasonable and your idea of reasonable may not be the same! Whether they are or not its going to cost you.
Of course we've always known, when you use another's work you must attribute that work to it's proper author/owner. In the literary world there are three different types of citations; APA Style, MLA Style, and Chicago Style. Whichever style you choose you must give the author credit. Citing the author/owner also allows your readers to check back with that author and look at all the references you've used, showing how much research you have done.
Whichever style you choose you must cite the author and you can do this through in-text parenthetic notes, footnotes, or end notes. Okay, but what about Creative Commons? I just said its free and you have to follow the author/owner's instructions. The interesting thing about Wikipedia is the information, pictures, whatever you find there is owned by the individual creators, not Wikipedia. Wikipedia states that most of what you find there can be freely used and that is were the Creative Commons License comes in.
So, moving back to the Creative Commons License:
- It is a public license - use is unlimited
- Anyone can apply one to his work
- Conditions include - licences with attribution, share-alike, non-commercial and no-derivatives
- Can also include Public Domain licenses.
How to Use the Creative Commons License
Now that you know what the Creative Commons License is, how do you use it? Well, number three above listed three 'conditions'; attribution, share-alike, and non-commercial. The first, attribution, is when you can copy the owner's work into your own, you can display it, and you can actually make derivative work based on the owner's original AS LONG AS YOU give the author/owner credit in the manner he/she specifies. Usually they will give you a link to use, one that not only includes their name but a website where they can be found. So the first way to use the license is to attribute the work back to the author/owner. The work will be marked (on Wikipedia) with "by".
The second way is through a Non-Commercial condition. Under the non-commercial, you can do all of the things stated in the paragraph above but you cannot use the work for commercial purposes. This work will be marked " by- nc".
The No-Derivative condition is just what it states, though you can use the work as stated above your cannot base derivative works on the original. This work will be marked "by-nd".
Lastly is Share-Alike. This one is not what it seems. Share-Alike means any work derived from the original author/owner, is bound by the same copyright laws. So, if you make a copy of the original author/owner's work, that copy is bound by the copyright laws back to the original owner. This work will be marked "by-share alike".
Note each marking contains "by" meaning attribution applies in addition to the other conditions.
The most important condition for using ANY work and yet still one of the most misunderstood. As writers we always attribute a work back to the author but we are no longer dealing with just books but Internet resources, usernames, a whole new ball game. The "new" attribution should include:
- the copyright (date, notation, whatever is available)
- the author's name - including any screen name or User ID if known (sometimes a site such as HP lets people write under a user ID)
- the name/title of the work
- the Creative Commons License - a link back to the original license
- whether or not the work is derivative - Ex. “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].” (from en.Wikipedia)
- if the author requires the citing of a specific URL you must cite that as well
Of course you should never make it look like the author is backing your work, unless of course that is the case.
Creative Commons Licenses Other Than Wikipedia
Wikipedia is not the only web site that offers Creative Commons Licenses....what about YouTube? How many YouTube videos have been shared in other people's writings or web pages? They are done so under the Creative Commons Licenses. Anyone who publicly posts a video on YouTube grants the CC License.
Flickr is another site that has the CC License option. While not all photographs listed on Flickr are posted under the CC License, many are. When on Flickr you can search for CC License photos.
Another site that offers a variety of photographs and photo collections is Fotopedia.
Open Clip Art Library is obviously a little different than the photography sites but offers a large collection of public domain clip art that is totally free to the public. Creativecommons.org lists this as one of the CC license sites. Many images contain an "Edit Image" button allowing you to edit the image right in the program. However these are .svg and you may not be able to use them.
For music there are a sites called Jamendo and for ccMixer. Euoropeana is, and I quote from their description, "Multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections, with procedures for content..."
Always, always attribute a work to the author. If you have more questions about the Creative Commons License you can most likely find answer at creativecommons.org, Wikipedia, or on Hub Pages..
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