Is Creative Commons the Same as Copyright?

Is Creative Commons the same as copyrightCreative Commons or any version of copyright helps you to maintain your rights regarding your writing. However, it won’t keep others from trying to steal (or scrape) your content if they are determined. What it will do, is give you a better legal standing because you clearly labeled your content copyrighted. Many people have had their content stolen, plagiarized, etc. even though the content was copyrighted.

(Aside: To curb scraping, I suggest you use a shortened feed. While the full feed may be useful to your readers, if you are having trouble with people stealing your content, using the shortened feed makes it harder for them. What the scraper is doing is re-routing your feed info to their site and using ads on that site to generate money. If they don’t have the full feed, they can’t make money.)

I encourage everyone to put a clearly visible copyright on your blog or web site. Having said that, here is some information about Creative Commons and copyright.

Creative Commons allows you to choose conditions you want applied to your copyright. The following is from Creative Commons:

  1. Attribution: This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your
    work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original
    creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms
    of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.
  2. Non-commercial: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and
    derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.
  3. No derivative works: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
  4. Share alike: You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

My understanding–and remember, I’m not a lawyer and I’m still learning too–is that if you use the text Copyright 2004-2007 (or something similar), then anyone interested in using your information must actually contact you for permission. If you use a Creative Commons license (CCL), they know that if it’s yours, they can use it without actually contacting you (provided they follow the actual CCL agreements at the Creative Commons site). The CCL is just a way of telling your readers that you agree to let them use your stuff in certain ways without asking.

Again, from the CC site:

Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright — all rights reserved — and the public domain — no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright.

What you have to decide is whether you are comfortable allowing people to use your work with certain stipulations or you would rather hold all rights and not share your work. If you don’t want people re-using your work, go with full copyright. If you have a CCL badge on your blog, know that you are allowing people to re-print your work without your permission, but they should be attributing it to you. (And remember, even this doesn’t mean someone won’t try to cut and paste or scrape your content for their own use.)

Copyright is a widely misunderstood issue. I encourage you to read more on the subject and learn how you can protect your creative products.

Here are some copyright information sites to start with:

3 Responses

  1. Kathy May 19, 2008 / 5:02 am

    I have a CC (the one with the most restrictions) plus a Copyscape badge, and I’ve still had my feed scraped. (On a site that sells ads; ergo, they’re making money from my content.)

  2. Melanie May 19, 2008 / 12:35 pm

    It’s true that if your info is online, it is easy to steal. However, if you choose to pursue the issue, the copyright/ccl gives you more leverage when dealing attorneys.

    If your content is being scraped, you should know that it most likely has to do with the fact that you are using a full feed instead of a teaser feed. Using the short feeds deters scrapers because they are not receiving the entire article, thus not making any money.

    There isn’t a way to prevent people from taking your content, but you can better protect yourself legally with copyright/ccl if you choose to take them to court over it.

  3. Audrey June 1, 2008 / 10:54 am

    There are a few articles out there on “intellectual property”. I learned about this when someone stole a FAQ I had written, erased my name and added hers. She truly used it verbatim. Very interesting topic, word stealing.

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