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Free Culture! Why traditional copyright isn't our best option. Creative Commons. Free the World. [With Updates]

in blog •  last year

I hope that we are all familiar and in love with, the concept of open source software. The type of collaboration it allows, and the liberties it allows, affords a much higher quality of software.

( | cca 4.0)

The open-source software movement is a movement that supports the use of open-source licenses for some or all software, a part of the broader notion of open collaboration. ( - Open Source Software Movement)

The Licenses available via are based on that same ideal.

(image source:

Creative Commons is similar to the Open Source Movement. It is expanded, however, to include almost any type of creative work imaginable. There are different types of licenses available via, depending upon which restrictions you do, or do not wish to place upon your work.

Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Our legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms; those who want to make creative uses of works; and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis. Our vision is to help others realize the full potential of the internet. CC has affiliates all over the world who help ensure our licenses work internationally and who raise awareness of our work. ( - FAQ)

So what gives, why do I even care?

We all love free software, music, movies, and books.

Hell, "free" is my favorite colour!

As we used to say in the formative days of the Internet: "all information should be free". Information in and of itself is intrinsically free. To the extant that many people feel 0 remorse after downloading the discographies of 100 of their favorite bands. It does't hurt my conscience when I watch movies or television shows for free online (not much time for that since steemit). It doesn't bother me to "steal" a copy of a research study. Nor do I flinch at 'borrowing' a PDF copy of an educational book to make my job as easier as a student and writer.

We say, "oh, those evil corporations are robbing us anyways."

It's true, isn't it? They are robbing us.

Then why are so many of us,myself included, apt to consider applying the same conventions to our works? Conventions, which, we will flout at the drop of the hat. Unless, of course, we think the that there are likely legal repercussions we could face (which is still pretty rare).

Is it so that, someday, we could potentially become like those evil corporations? Suing people for writing a book review, or chasing down the most recent pirated copies of our animations??

Well, being rich sounds nice..... but after I think about it that way... actually Creative Commons offers me a lot more value than the traditional copyright could ever afford.

Now I don't mean to downplay the concerns of creators about ROI. Gratefully, the steem blockchain offers us the ability to get paid for the content we create. As we build our networks, accumulate Steem Power, and develop worthy content (not just worthy to us, but to the market). It is likely we (especially early users like us) can see that ROI(Return on Investment) over the long term.

Regardless of all that, perhaps our concern should be creating content that is valuable "anywhere". That way, regardless of the payout of a particular post(or the future of this platform), we are creating something worthwhile across many platforms.

All that to be said... What exactly is Free Culture?

According to

This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between free works, and free licenses which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is not a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free."

So what types of licenses does Creative Commons offer?

There are 4 basic conditions under which you can publish your works with a Creative Commons License.

Attribution: (BY)

All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.

Share Alike: (SA)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.

Non Commercial: (NC)

[NOTE: the Non-Commercial license will not be helpful if you want people to be able to use your work on the Steem Blockchain. All posts here are, by nature, worth some monetary value. This would only work if you add a condition that people can use your work and create derivatives for profit only on the Steem Blockchain (or "with permission only" if you want to be able to negotiate terms individually).]

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.

No Derivatives: (ND)

You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

[Unless otherwise noted all content from from is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

For the purposes of this article I'm going to ignore the bottom two conditions and talk about the two different types of licenses that fit within the standards of Free Culture.

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

This is all very interesting to me, because I like to create educational works. It is wonderful to know I can license my work and allow anyone to do anything with it as long as they use the same license. Essentially it means that anyone could improve upon my work in any way they see fit, and then I could use their derivative.

The way I see it, CC BY-SA 4.0, allows the rest of the world to help me do my homework. This way we all can benefit from the work that we do, allowing for greater creativity and collaboration, in a manner which is legally protected.

I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but I had a question which was bothering me. I use (with permission) other people's artwork, quotations from books and websites (under fair use).

Could I potentially be giving away the rights of artists and other creators?

After a bit of digging I found this: - Noting third-party content in your work

When you add a CC license to your work, you are only granting permissions to the rights you hold in the work. So if your work is a derivative of another creator's CC-licensed work, or otherwise incorporates third-party content under fair use or other exceptions, then you should make a note of that for your users. Your CC license only ever covers the rights you have in the content you create, and never other content by third parties.

If you are incorporating materials offered under other CC licenses, then see our best practices for attribution.

For more information, or for tips on how to mark content that is incorporated under fair use or other exceptions, see marking third-party content.

(This wiki is licensed to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.)

These licenses will, not only, protect your Quality Content, while allowing freedom of information. But learning how to use them, and understanding how they work can protect you from infringing the rights of other people. In fact, properly licensing your own works, can help protect others in this community from violating your rights unknowingly.

What's More?

How do Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools work technically?

The Creative Commons licenses have three layers, as does the CC0 public domain dedication: the human-readable deed, the lawyer-readable legal code, and the machine-readable metadata. The Public Domain Mark is not legally operative, and so has only two layers: the human-readable mark and machine-readable metadata.

When material is licensed using any of the CC licenses or tools, it is highly recommended that a CC button, text, or other marker somehow accompany it. There are many possible modes for marking. For our licenses, people generally use the CC license chooser to generate HTML code that can be pasted into the webpage where the licensed material is published.

Why should I use the license chooser? What if I don’t?

Licensors are not required to use the CC license chooser or provide any information about themselves or their material when applying a CC license to their material. However, using the license chooser enables licensors to take advantage of the "machine readable" layer of CC licenses. Our machine-readable code enhances the discoverability of your work because that code allows software, search engines, and other tools to recognize when something is licensed under a CC license. The code also facilitates attribution: when users click on the CC button placed on your site, they will be linked directly to HTML code that they can cut and paste to provide attribution.
( - FAQ)


I believe the future of the Steemit Platform will more and more require the need for us to pay close attention to these issues. Whatever value you put in your work will only be increased by proper citations, and licenses. In fact, I foresee a time not so far away when there are a million people here writing very similar articles to each other. Proper citations and appropriate licenses may be what makes you stand out from the crowd! Thank You!

[EDIT] European Supreme Court ruled you can Reuse and Repost Anything you find On the Web (apparently the court case is from three years ago, but I never heard of it! Please leave comments if you're from Europe and if you knew about this, and tell me how it's working, or if you've seen effects from it. I'll have to go deeper to really understand exactly what this means.)[/EDIT]

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise noted all of the content created by @inquiringtimes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Additionally, while not required, it would be polite to contact me if you wish to use these materials for any purpose(excepting a quotation in comments, elsewhere on the Steem Block-chain, where a simple @ tag \ linkback is sufficient).

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