Creative Commons licences release new wave of content sharing

Traditionally, content—stories, pictures, music, video, et cetera—has been protected by using an all-rights-reserved copyright. This indicates that the copyright holder reserves all rights that are granted to them through copyright law. Meaning, if you want to use material that is protected by copyright for any reason, you have to get permission from the copyright holder.

With the rapid adoption of the Internet and with the ease of uploading and distributing content on-line, a new form of copyright licence has recently emerged. This new form is known as Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. According to Creative Commons:

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that works to increase the amount of content (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, re-purposing, and remixing. Creative Commons does this by providing free, easy-to-use legal and technical tools that give everyone a simple, standardized way to pre-clear copyrights to their creative work. CC licenses let people easily change their copyright terms from the default, restrictive “all rights reserved” to a more flexible “some rights reserved.”

The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licences. These licences allow content creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. This allows other content creators to take your content and use, remix, or repurpose your content into something that is completely new while still giving you credit for your initial work. Droves of artists and creative types are now using available social-media sites, such as Flickr, YouTube, and blogs, to share their work and allow distribution through Creative Commons licensing.

As traditional media sources have started to migrate on-line, they have been wrestling with the copyright issues that are prevalent on the Internet. Instead of adopting the new model of copyright as has been done by many on-line content creators, they have tried to stick with and enforce the traditional copyright model through digital rights management. This has turned some consumers into criminals, with, for instance, the music industry taking people to court for illegally downloading or sharing content on-line.

As a content creator, I am a firm supporter of Creative Commons licensing. I fully believe that there are strong revenue models that can be utilized through opening your content up to other content creators. A perfect example is that of photographers. By uploading their work to sites like Flickr and allowing their use through Creative Commons licensing, they are receiving far greater distribution and exposure than they possibly would have otherwise. Among the people that see their work, one may be a future client who hires them to cover an event—creating revenue streams that they would not have had they not uploaded their content.

Local photographer Kris Krug of Static Photography is a perfect example of this new wave of photographers. According to Krug:

I currently have over 20,000 photos online under Creative Commons license. This has provided me with an awesome way to keep control of my creative work while allowing me to share it with others to use in collaborative and creative ways and has enabled me to be a contributor and collaborator in projects greater than myself. It has allowed me to become one of the premier photographers in Vancouver. Without putting my photographic work out there online for others to use and remix, I wouldn’t have had some of the rad opportunities that I’ve experienced in my photographic career.

To find out more about Creative Commons and the various forms of licensing available to content creators, visit the Creative Commons Web site.

Jenn Lowther is the director of social media marketing at Vancouver-based 6S Marketing. Check Jenn out on Twitter at