Wil on July 11th, 2012
Creative Commons licensing is becoming an increasingly popular way for creators of online content to manage copyright in their works. I had the privilege of attending the Creative Commons Australia’s Melbourne Seminar last month to find out how this is being done both locally and internationally. Links to all the presentations given on the day can be found here.
While Creative Commons licensing is certainly not new (the licenses themselves are in their third iteration; learn more about what you can do under Creative Commons here), it is only recently that proof of its commercial viability has gained international attention. Many examples illustrating how Creative Commons licensed works have paid dividends for their creators were given during the presentation. Most notable perhaps is Cory Doctorow, himself a vocal proponent of Creative Commons, and his book ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom’, which was the first novel published under a Creative Commons licence. As a result of what his readers could do under this licence, ‘Down and Out…’ was translated to several different languages and made available through various electronic formats, giving the book a wider readership than what it would have enjoyed had it been published as a traditional novel.
Some government departments and media agencies have also adopted Creative Commons licensing for the content they produce online. Geosciences Australia, Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to name a few have greatly contributed to the flow of public sector information by releasing publically funded research data under Creative Commons licensing. Similarly, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently partnered with Wikimedia Commons to build its Open Archives which hosts Creative Commons licensed files of archival footage of important events in Australian history.
Furthermore, the growth in Creative Commons licensed content represents a boon to those of us working in the education sector. The breadth of content available to use as teaching materials is steadily increasing, allowing universities and organisations, like MIT OpenCourseWare and the Khan Academy develop novel ways of delivering educational instruction to more people around the world. Find moer information on other Creative Commons educational initiatives here.
Creative Commons licensing can coexist with traditional publishing models, as these examples show. It represents an alternative means of managing copyright in online content while at the same time fostering the creative drive that sustains the vibrancy of online communities. At its core is the virtue of sharing, and virtue, as is often said, is its own reward.