Free licenses, part 1
All photographs -- all works, in fact -- are automatically copyrighted when they are created. Some people are of the mistaken impression that if you don't include a © symbol, it's not copyrighted. This was the case up until 1977, but anything created since then is copyrighted with or without the notice.
This is fine if you want to prevent people from using your images, but what if you want to allow them? You could include a licensing agreement with every work you create, explaining just what you do and don't allow people to do with your images, but for those of us who aren't lawyers, this can be prohibitively difficult. Luckily for us, there is an organization called the Creative Commons which has worked to make it easy for us. (You can learn more about the Creative Commons here.)
The Creative Commons has several easy-to-use licenses that you can apply to your images or other works that will let people know exactly what they can and cannot do with them.
- cc-pd: The Creative Commons Public Domain License is the best way to release your own work into the public domain. If you want to let people do whatever they want with your works, without any restrictions, then this is the license for you.
- cc-by: The Creative Commons Attribution License allows others to reuse your work in any way they like, so long as they credit you.
- cc-by-nd: The Creative Commons Attribution-No-Derivatives License is like the cc-by license above, but it does not allow others to modify your work. They can reprint it, but they can't alter it.
- cc-by-nc: The Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License allows anyone to use your work in any way (so long as they credit you) for non-commercial purposes. But if a person wants to use your work for profit, they have to request specific permission. This can be combined with the above license into the cc-by-nc-nd license.
Next week, I'll discuss the cc-by-sa license, which opens a whole new world up to reusing creative content.
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