“ Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. „
I have a problem with people who break copyright and at the same time I totally understand what it is like when you need a piece of audio or visual material for a project - you need to go and find it and pay the author.
The internet has brought about a free for all where the majority are under the hugely false impression that if it is on the internet it is fair game.
That is not the case!
If you didn't take that photograph that you are using on your blog, no matter how crap it the image you have stolen is, it is NOT yours to use.
If you didn't write that piece of music, which you have used to accompany your youtube video it is NOT yours to use.
If you didn't write that Dooyoo review which you have copied and used on Ciao it is not yours to use.
So what is the solution for those of us who need a media form for a project.
The same as it has always been - you contact an agency and pay for a licence to use the material. At one time this would have been a difficult job and involved going to a physical agency, for a photograph or piece of audio or film stock, probably in London (no good if you are in John O' Groats) and paying a lot of money for a licence to use the said piece.
Nowdays it is EASY and CHEAP to obtain audio and video stock cheaply - do the right thing folks and pay the media creator. There are plenty of media stock agencies where you can buy photo, video and audio stock. There are plenty of agencies online such as Dreamstime, Fotolia, Bigstockphoto, 123RF, Stockxpert, Mostphotos, where you can pay pennies for the use of a photograph.
So, I haven't mentioned creativecommons.org. Well what this website/organisation supposedly allows you to do is to find media stock which is free to use and share. Normally when someone creates a media text, i.e. a photo, song, or film for example, they automatically reserve all rights to copy, reproduce, use etc that artefact themselves only. Should someone else wish to use it, it is normally licenced out for use for an agreed time, and the reproduction of a set amount of copies, and limits of use (i.e. for commerical or non-commercial purposes), normally for payment, or at very least a byline.
Sounds complicated, so you can probably see why Mr Blogger thinks 'bugger this' and just lifts an image off the internet to use on his blog.
Creativecommons is attempting to work around this. It supposedly encourages people to track down works where the author is prepared to allow his or her work to be used for free AND for a byline, credit or whatever you want to call it.
This is a double edged sword: creative commons might drive home the message that someone owns an image and you need permission (at the least) to use it, but I still think it gives the message that media forms are free to use, all you need to do is ask to use it - in fact you don't even need to ask if the user has claimed in the text next to thier image that they can use it as long as they give credit and a link back to where they found the image, usually Flickr. Flickr embraces the Creativecommons notion and allows users to mark their images with a level of rights reserved, ranging from All Right Reserved, through to Some Rights Reserved, other rights might allow for an image to be used in commerical projects, others might limit a piece to be used for non-commercial purposes.
Where this works it is 'nice' - the photographer gets a credit, which might, just might drum up some interest in his or her work.
Thus far I haven't mentioned the creativecommons.org website this review is supposedly about. Well I figured the background I have given is necessary. The website itself is essentially an information website all about creativecommons.org, its aims, ethos etc. The site also has a search engine that you can use to supposedly track down work that you can use with a Creative Commons Licence.
Perhaps I was using this wrong, but all it did was return a load of google results, which in all likelihood you would click on to search for 'useable' works. In other words it wasn't much help except for creative commons who would pick up a 'click through' credit from Google.
I am in principle against the idea of Creative Commons as it instills the idea that 'if it is on the net it is free''. I have used the Creativecommons concept in principle in that if I have seen a picture on Flickr I have liked, I have contacted the author for permission to use on a blog. So am I contradicting myself - in one breath I am criticizing this notion of creativecommons and in another breath I am saying I have used it in principle. Well, I am taking a slightly aloof approach in that I am well aware of the notion of copyright and created works and the importance of paying a photographer/musician/videographer etc and where appropriate giving them credit - there are a million others out there who aren't aware of this.
I am not entirely sure of the legal position of this organisation. It is of the USA, so can't see anything that they propose standing up in British law, however as far as I recall, websites such as Flickr who embrace creativecommons, don't go into the legal aspects of this on acountry by country basis - I could be wrong here.
Creativecommons is sending out the wrong message to those who don't know the difference between image theft and agreed and permitted use.
It is simple though, If you see a media form you want to use and you didn't create it, you need to ask permission to use it, and if necessary, pay the creator and where appropriate credit them.
The Creative Commons idea, like most of the best ideas, is very simple: you create a piece of work, then use a standardised template to make it clear what others may do with it. You can specify whether you merely want your work to be acknowledged by others, or whether you wish to impose stricter conditions such as not allowing commercial use of your work or not allowing it to be changed, merely redistributed as is. The simple yet distinctive Creative Commons logo - the letters "CC" in a circle - is now quite a common sight on the web.
Although there have been questions about whether the CC licences are strong enough to stand up in court, they are undoubtedly extremely useful in a slightly more informal way to give clear guidance to others about the text, photos and so on you publish online. The photo-sharing site Flickr, for example, gives uploaders the choice of licensing the pictures they upload under an (admittedly slightly outdated) CC licence, and the music remix site ccMixter is founded entirely on the CC philosophy.
The official website of the CC project is at creativecommons.org, and although there is a UK-specific site at creativecommons.org.uk, that is little more than a holding page, with nothing there at the time of writing other than a Twitter feed. The main (.org) site presents a pleasingly clean and simple appearance on first glance: no clashing colours, no annoying pop-ups, no pointless Java or Flash to slow things down. What is obvious is a large, clear version of the CC logo; this is another plus point, as a surprising number of websites don't actually make their branding very clear.
The most prominent thing on the homepage is - as is usually the case for non-commercial projects - a big appeal for donations, sponsored by Canonical (the people behind Ubuntu Linux). It's a simple static image, though, which I'm quite happy with. Clicking on it brings you to a page explaining quite clearly how to "Donate to [their] Fall Campaign" and what gifts (if any) are offered in exchange for certain levels of monetary support. Oddly, although both here and on the homepage we're told that "Canonical wants to double your donation", we're not told in either place exactly what this means: "wants to" sounds uncomfortably like an aspiration, not a firm commitment.
Back on the homepage, across the top are simple text links to eight sections of the site: About, News, Donate, FAQ, Wiki, Projects, Store and International, which are available from nearly all pages throughout the site. The first two are self-explanatory, and we've just looked at the Donate section. The FAQ link goes in the first instance to a simple "FFAQ" (ie Frequently Frequently Asked Questions!) page, though there's an easily-found link to a much more detailed - and as such, rather denser - page which answers almost every question you might want to ask.
The Wiki link does *not* go to Wikipedia, in spite of the fact that the word "wiki" is sometimes (rather misleadingly) used to refer to the online encyclopedia, which has fairly recently (and not without a struggle) adopted a CC licence for its own content. Instead, it leads to CC's own wiki, wherein you can read or collaborate in writing information about CC projects, add information for developers or promote CC-related events around the world. The Projects link, meanwhile, includes such things as information on metrics, "CC0" (a licence intended to be more legally robust than "public domain") and advice on how best to mark your projects so as to make their licensing conditions clear.
The Store link goes, as you would expect, to a store, though it's not the most well-stocked one you'll ever see. You can buy T-shirts, stickers and "buttons" (what we'd call badges). Be warned, though: the prices are fairly steep, and shipping from the US increases them further; you'll be looking at a total of almost $30 just for a T-shirt. You can pay only by credit card or PayPal. Finally, the International link takes you to a page showing those jurisdictions for which localised CC licences are available: they include England & Wales and Scotland.
A little lower down the site's homepage is a "Find" link. This is a meta-search engine - in other words, one that does not do its own searching but instead utilises the CC search options of sites such as Google, Yahoo and Flickr. As a bold warning points out, you will still need to do your own checking of any material your search turns up in order to check that it really is under a CC licence. It works adequately, and having a central location for several search engines can be handy, but it does perhaps lack the clean, obvious interface of most of the rest of the CC site.
Back to the CC homepage yet again, and near the bottom an area is set aside for news headlines, each of which links to a fuller description. And - hurrah! - here at last we finally discover what that comment from Canonical actually meant: it turns out that they will indeed match, dollar for dollar, any contributions made to the appeal... but only for one week, and only up to a total of $3,000. Elsewhere there are both general and international news links; at the time of writing there were stories from Japan, Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany, so quite a spread!
Oh, and to answer the obvious outstanding question: yes, creativecommons.org does practise what it preaches, in that it licenses its own content under a CC licence! Overall, this is a pretty good site: not one for thrill seekers, but one which gives a good account of itself and makes the basic information that most visitors will actually want easily accessible.