Last week, we released our We Media paper jointly with The Media Center at The American Press Institute under a Creative Commons license. We’ve had several questions about what this means and why we would do such a thing. For those interested in repurposing We Media or creating derivative works, here are a few helpful answers to your questions:
Does a Creative Commons license mean I have to give up my copyright?
Nope. This is a popular misconception. Even Dave Winer, it seems, was a little unclear about the difference:
"Emailing with Larry Lessig today, he said something surprising about Creative Commons:
“No author gives up his copyright when putting content under a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license is just permissions given up front. It rests upon a copyright (without the copyright, you couldn’t impose the permissions). But the copyright owner holds the copyright, and just says, ‘here’s how you’re free to use my work.’"
So, Creative Commons lets us to retain our joint copyright while allowing certain exceptions and permissions, which seems much more powerful to us. As well, a Creative Commons license applies worldwide.
Can you still make money with We Media using a “non-commercial use” license?
If we don’t, it won’t be because of this license. The “non-commercial use” only applies to others who use our work, not us. Anyone may print and share We Media with their friends, students and colleagues, but if they print and distribute it for financial gain, they’ll need our permission first.
Why would you do this? Isn’t it risky?
We Media chronicles the emerging rise of collaboration on the Internet. In the spirit of that movement, anything less than a Creative Commons license would feel hypocritical. But our motivations are not entirely selfless. We hope to see We Media shared and built upon in unexpected ways.
How can I use We Media differently today?
• Translate it. There are many journalists, professors and students around the world who could benefit from a local translation — such as Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
• Make an audiobook version in MP3.
• Print and share it with your co-workers, colleagues, students, friends, family, whomever. The more the merrier.
• Make it better. If you think you can expand upon some of the ideas we’ve put forth, more power to you.
We hope that helps, and potentially motivates you to move some of your work under a Creative Commons license. In any case, please comment here if you end up doing anything interesting with We Media.
To learn more:
• CreativeCommons.org, FAQ, Flash movies and comic strips.
• Dan Gillmor explains why his book published by O’Reilly, We the Media, was released under a Creative Commons License
• Recent Associated Press article on Creative Commons
• From Signal vs. Noise: An exercise in clarity: Explain the Creative Commons in 20 words or less. Extra points if you can do it in 10.