Skip to content

Thing #20 – Copyleft & Creative Commons

December 12, 2010

Photo by TilarX. Found with google image search "labeled for reuse with modification."


Copyright, Copyleft, and Creative Commons.  This is an easy but incredibly significant one.

Did you know that as soon as you finish creating something- anything– you instantly hold the copyright with all rights reserved? It’s true!  Read more to find out why this isn’t always so swell.


One of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 is the creation and sharing of content, and tools like Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Slideshare (and hundreds of others) make this easy to do. But with the free exchange of content comes the responsibility of determining how it is shared, how it may be used, and how to properly credit the author or creator.


Read a little more and watch a video.


The first thing to remember is that material on someone’s website, Flickr photos, or even what you find through services like google image search, is generally going to be copyrighted, meaning you can’t use any of it without the owner’s permission.  Getting permission may be as easy as sending the owner an email, or it may be impossible if there is no contact information.


Copyleft, according to Wikipedia, “is a play on the word copyright to describe… a general method for making a program (or other work) free, and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well.”  It can be seen as a response to copyright laws that tend to stifle the creation and exchange of ideas and art on the web.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a form of copyleft that provides free tools that allow folks to give advance permission for people to use what they’ve created in certain ways. If you follow the terms of the license, you are free to use the work in your blog or in your wiki – or anywhere else the license lets you.
Watch this video about Creative Commons.

Currently, there are millions of photos, books, songs, poems, artworks, videos and other media shared on the web under Creative Commons licenses, including this program. 23 Things SCPL is an example of how you can take a piece of information or a product (in this case, the original 23 Things program) and ‘remix’ it to make it fit your needs, giving attribution to the original author– which we’ve done in the sidebar!

How do I Attribute CC Material?

You must attribute the author in the way in which they specify – no ifs, ands or buts.  However, for a lot of cc-licensed material, the author doesn’t bother to tell you just how they want to be credited. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to credit – attribution is fundamental to Creative Commons licenses.

You should provide links to:

• The place where you found the work
• The exact license agreement

…But Be Warned

Just because someone posts a work online and says or implies that you can use it, doesn’t mean that they are actually able to give you permission in the first place.  In some cases, this is very obvious – think TV shows posted to YouTube.  In others, it’s less so.  Again, common sense rules the day, and, if you’re not certain, don’t use it.


Some ideas to write about:

Have you noticed the CC logo on any websites you visit? Did you wonder what it meant?
Do you ever share or use pictures, videos or written information on the web for work or personal life?
What are some potential negatives for using CC?

Name this blog post Thing #20.


If you want to read more about how to attribute Creative Commons works, there’s a good entry in WikiHow.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s