CC: Control your Copyright

Creative entrepreneurs are rightly concerned about controlling their copyright (‘not getting ripped off’) and generating income from their copyright through licensing, ie being a creative entrepreneur.

It seems that we used to have only two options about what to do with our copyright material – either give it away into the ‘public domain’, or heavily restrict its use, quoting one of those ‘all rights reserved’ paragraphs often found on copyright material.

But creative people often want to be more flexible about how they restrict or permit the usage of their copyright material – writing, photographs, music, designs, video, artwork, computer programs etc.

Sometimes we want to allow people to reproduce our works, but only on certain conditions, for example that they don’t change it or use it commercially. Sometimes we want others to develop the work, but still credit the original artist. We might want to apply different conditions to the use of our copyright material depending on the circumstances, the works themselves or our business strategy. Sometimes we do want to adopt the ‘All Rights Reserved’ policy and at other times we want to take a ‘Some Rights Reserved’ approach.

This is where the Creative Commons movement can help. It began when creative people got together with lawyers to explore these different options for use of copyright material and then express these different options both in straightforward language and also in the form of legal contracts. The Creative Commons now offers a range of legally-watertight but also easily understood copyright licences that creative people can use.

For example, the free eBook version of my book ‘T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity’ has been made available for people to copy, print and redistribute – provided you don’t change it or sell it. This is what the publisher and author wanted to do, so we selected a Creative Commons licence to suit this purpose: the “Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence”.

Some people seem to think that the Creative Commons movement is telling us to release our copyright, but that’s not the case. It’s for us to decide what we want to do – the Creative Commons enables us to do it with a legally valid copyright licence.

More information and a range of copyright licences are available on the Creative Commons website.