A question we hear frequently from many clients: “Is the writing on my blog copyrighted?”
This question comes in all sort of variations, ranging from who owns the copyright, to the process needed to copyright something, to wondering if copyright even exists on the web. Copyright on the web can easily turn into a labyrinth of complications. I like to offer clients who ask a very simple solution that protects their work, and has the added bonus of helping to promote it. Register all the creative work on your blog under a Creative Commons license.
Working with hundreds of blogging clients over the years, has led us to the conclusion that Creative Commons is often misunderstood by people who are new to blogging. This is really a shame, because using CC can give your blog and creative work a big hand by helping others share and promote what you make. New, and even experienced bloggers, see Creative Commons as a license to steal their work, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Applying a Creative Commons license to the content you create actually ensures that you will receive proper credit for whatever you make, while letting people freely share your creations to help get the word out.
Many bloggers are very resistant to Creative Commons at first. We’ve heard many reasons, but the one we hear the most is “People are going to rip me off, and post my work everywhere!” Let’s think about that for a second. People are going to re-post your writing everywhere? The horror! What a problem to have! There are many reasons that people choose to blog. One of the most common is to promote themselves, their business and their work, in order to establish a reputation. If someone reads your blog post, then chooses to publish it elsewhere, that’s a fantastic compliment and a great way to have more people see what you’ve created.
Let’s face it, unless you are a successful professional blogger (and even then, this can be quite a stretch) you probably aren’t getting paid for your blog posts once they are published. If people share or re-post one of your pieces with a link back to the original, it’s a win for you. There is no chance of you being “ripped off” when people share your work. Most of us could use the exposure for what we create. Applying a Creative Commons license to your projects ensures that when people share your work, you receive proper credit.
There are several variations on the Creative Commons license. The one that we recommend to blogging clients is the Attribution-No Derivatives license. In the simplest term, when your work is licensed this way others can share, distribute and reprint it other places as long as they give you proper credit, and don’t modify your work. Fair enough? With this license, your original creation will remain intact, and whenever it appears on the web, your name, and a link back to the original on your blog will be included.
Often, when people are looking to source content for a project, they will specifically search for Creative Commons licensed work, because they know that it can be legally shared. If your work falls under this umbrella, it increases the chance that someone will find and share it, increasing the exposure and bolstering your reputation. This is a great passive distribution strategy, and requires no work on your end, other than noting on your blog that the work is CC licensed.
The Creative Commons http://creativecommons.org/ organization has an excellent website, and a huge amount of resources to help you understand and apply the licenses to your creation. Take a look at the site, have a look at the various licenses available and read through the FAQ page which will most likely answer any questions you have. If you need any more convincing, the Content Directory lists a portion of the thousands and thousands of people using CC licenses to protect, share and distribute their work. A quick look will show you that you’re in excellent company. Many of the most innovative creators on the web are proponents of Creative Commons.
The most important thing to keep in mind, is that letting others share your work is a cornerstone of the web, and the more people that see your work the better. Remember: Sharing is a good thing!