Appendix B. Creative Commons Explained

"Here's the deal: I'm releasing this book under a license developed by the Creative Commons Project. This is a project that lets people like me roll our own license agreements for the distribution of our creative work under terms similar to those employed by the Free/Open Source Software movement. It's a great project, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

Cory Doctorow, author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, a novel available online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License.

Quote from interview conducted at Creative Commons (

If you've listened to podcasts, it's likely you've heard the following: "This podcast is protected by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License." Sometimes the podcaster will explain what this means, and other times he or she just assumes you already know. It's likely that if you've published your feed through Feedburner, you've encountered the question of whether you want to put a Creative Commons License on your podcast.

Creative Commons is an organization that makes licenses that protect your work. When you write a story, draw a picture, or record a podcast, you automatically hold the copyright to the material. This means that no one else has the right to print your story and hand it to a friend, or even burn your podcast to a CD, because that would be a violation of copyright. The other end of the spectrum is public domain, which means someone can take your story off the Web, make your heroic character into a criminal eater of puppies, and sell the story.

To many podcasters, neither of these scenarios are attractive. Most of us want people to entice others to listen to our podcasts, so burning the podcast to a CD and distributing it seems less like stealing and more like helping us with marketing. However, until Creative Commons came along, if we gave people permission to do that, we might be inadvertently allowing them to do anything they like with the work.

Creative Commons is the license that works in the Internet Age. You allow people to take your work and enjoy it, make copies, and distribute it. In effect, you get to choose the rules you put on the license, as follows:

  • Attribution When people reuse your work, are they required to say you created it?

  • Noncommercial Can people sell your work without your express permission?

  • Derivative Works Can people modify the work? Can they write fan fiction based on your story or change your photograph in Photoshop or splice your podcast words together to create different meanings than you'd originally stated?

  • Share Alike Once the person changes the work, he or she has to place an identical Creative Commons License on it when distributing the work.

Most podcasts are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. This means that you can download the podcast and distribute it, put it on your website, burn it to a CD, or whatever you like. But you must give attribution, telling people who originally created the podcast. You cannot sell it without permission from the podcaster. You cannot modify it in any way. This is the most restrictive Creative Commons License, but there are many others11 possible licenses in total.

Creative Commons allows people to protect their work and still allow easy Internet distribution. It fits the podcasting world quite well.

One of the worst things about understanding copyright is that it's a legal term, with many-worded legal definitions going along with it that most of the population can't understand. The beauty of Creative Commons is that the site has a straight language (or as they call it, "human readable") definition of the rights and restrictions the various licenses give. There are two web comics designed to illustrate Creative Commons. The creators of the site understand that the "normal" populace needs to understand the legalities of these licenses, and the site does a fabulous job in explaining everything.


Author Cory Doctorow released an entire novel on the Internet with a Creative Commons Licenseat the same time the novel landed on the bookshelves through his publisher, Tor. No one had done this before, and Cory and his editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, thought it was a fabulous idea.

Since then, several podcasters have released short fiction and whole novels through podcasting using a Creative Commons License.

For more information, visit the Creative Commons home page at (see Figure B.1).

User-friendly site for Creative Commons.

It is important to understand that Creative Commons is not part of copyright law. It is sort of a handshake agreement stating that although your work is not in the public domain, you will allow certain uses of it.

"The Creative Commons Legal Code has been drafted with the intention that it will be enforceable in court. That said, we cannot account for every last nuance in the world's various copyright laws and/or the circumstances within which our licenses are applied and Creative Commonslicensed content is used. Please note, however, that our licenses contain "severability" clausesmeaning that, if a certain provision is found to be unenforceable in a certain place, that provision and only that provision drops out of the license, leaving the rest of the agreement intact."


For more information regarding U.S. copyright law, check

Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
ISBN: 0789735741
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 162

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