Selecting a Creative Commons license


Approved for Free Cultural WorksWhen you’ve got content that you’re wanting to put online, deciding how you want to license or copyright your work can be a tricky question. For software and code, there are a variety of licenses, starting with GNU’s GPL 3.0. But if your content is text, images, videos or a combination thereof, the Creative Commons licenses are the most common way to license work. Creative Commons was started as a way to license creative works in a less restrictive manner than copyright, which continues to be beefed up by large corporations.

If you’ve chosen a license already, which one did you choose? I looked at some of the case histories on Creative Commons’ website. I looked at some of the different licenses, and it seems to me that there are two licenses most useful or appealing to me. One is Attribution-Share Alike. This is the Creative Commons equivalent of open source. It is theoretically similar in action, and bears the stamp of approval for free cultural works. This license may cause some people pause because it allows commercial uses of their works. In my thinking, this is negligible because of the Share Alike part of the license, so someone using your work in a commercial manner would have to allow someone else to also use that work. That negates someone cornering the market on your creative work.

The other license of interest is Attribution-Noncommercial. This license is somewhat more restrictive and doesn’t bear the seal of free cultural works. It does perhaps have the psychic benefit of not allowing commercial uses of works. I often see people applying this license but in a more restrictive fashion with either the Share Alike wording or the No Derivatives wording. It seems to me that if you’re going to specify Noncommercial than that may be all that is necessary. It allows the users of your works more flexibility. If you’re going to license things under a Creative Commons license anyway, why use one of the most restrictive licenses.

So my analysis says by-sa and by-nc are the two most useful licenses. What do you think?