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By 2 July 2009 | Categories: feature articles

     
 
 

In the past there was a small group of people that ­monopolised the primary channels that information was ­distributed through. The people in charge of the newspapers, television channels, movie production houses and record ­companies had the power to decide what was broadcasted and when.

This power is quickly becoming diluted, as it is far easier now for anyone with a PC to become a content producer. Thanks to the Internet these producers have new and varied platforms on which to publish and distribute their content. Web services, such as YouTube, Flickr, Blogger and MySpace, have created channels through which user generated content can be disseminated and freely consumed. These services really do point the way forward to a new kind of publishing.

© too Restrictive
What the Internet has exposed is that the old, “all rights ­reserved” copyright paradigm, is too restrictive. It does not legally allow others to use, rebuild, remix and add on to ­copyrighted works (not that it is really a deterrent if you look at what’s available on YouTube). According to Tobias Schoenwetter, Legal Lead of Creative Commons South Africa, “all-rights-­reserved”-copyright often prevents gaining exposure and widespread distribution since it is simply too complicated. “For many creators, sharing their works and thereby contributing to and participating in an intellectual commons to learn, get recognition and help others, are the main incentives for their creative activities – not a potential financial gan,” says Schoenwetter.

What CC offers
Because of this many people are turning to Creative Commons (CC). CC sets out to bridge the restrictive usage of copyright by providing an alternative in the way creative work can be
licensed. According to Schoenwetter, 2008 saw an estimated 130 million works worldwide licensed under Creative Commons. By releasing work under a CC license you define the copyright on your creation by setting certain limits on how your work can be used.

There are 6 types of licenses available which can be viewed at http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses. The licenses available allow for commercial use of your work or restrict it. They allow for any form of modification to your work by third parties and the terms under which such modifications can be made. It may sound complicated but it is really as simple as going to creativecommons.org/license/ and answering a few questions to see which license suits your needs. One of the most accommodating licenses is the “Attribution Share Alike” license; this allows anyone to use and build upon or your work, even for commercial purposes, as long as you are credited, and the resulting work is released under the same license.

If you want to learn more about CC or want to find CC licensed work, check out www.creativecommons.org.

[This article is published under the CC Attribution Share Alike License.]

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