Speaking of licensing

May 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s one licensing question we haven’t addressed: does your own blog need copyright protection? To cut to the chase–yes. The original content you’ve been posting–because it constitutes creative expression– is covered by US copyright law, so I recommend protecting your work with a free license from the non-profit organization Creative Commons. A license will let readers know what they can and can’t do with what you publish on your blog. Before you get a license, though, read this rundown of things you should consider beforehand.

You can choose from among six main licenses, which grant different sorts of permissions. Three allow commercial use (Attribution, Attribution Share Alike, and Attribution No Derivatives). You’ll probably want to choose one of the other three–Attribution Non-Commercial, Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike, or Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives.

According to the license descriptions on Creative Commons,

Attribution Non-Commercial allows other users to “tweak, remix, and build upon” your work non-commercially as long as they give you attribution. However, these users don’t have to license the results of their tweakings, remixings, and buildings upon in the same way. Which I take to mean that the residue of your original work will no longer be identified as yours in the third generation and could be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike allows other uses to “tweak, remix, and build upon” your work non-commercially as long as they give you attribution. They have to license the results with the same protection you used, which will disallow commercial use.

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives, which gives your work the most protection, allows other users to share your work as long as they give you credit and link back to it. These users cannot alter your work or sell it. This is the one I’d opt for. But don’t take my word for it. What I’ve posted here is only a “how to” primer of the most basic kind. Please go to the Creative Commons website to get really informed.

After deciding on the right license for your blog, go to the “License Your Work” page on Creative Commons and select the options you want. When you’re done, the site will give you the html code you need in order to show the license on your home page. Copy the code, then go to your Dashboard, find Appearance in menu in the left margin, then click Widgets. You should see a option called Text. Drag it into one of the space categories in (I think) the right hand margin. Paste the text into the window and save. (These steps are specific to uploading the license into a WordPress blog, but any blog host will have how-to instructions.)

You’re done!


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