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Weblog Entry

The Case for Copyright

December 16, 2002

As reported today by Wired News, Creative Commons has released the first version of their licensing project. The astute reader may have assumed due to the Eldred vs. Ashcroft support on the right-hand column of this very web site that I don’t support excessive copyright. The following should confirm that assumption.

Creative Commons is offering a set of canned licenses for creative work, with an emphasis on allowing shared work while retaining copyright. Thus, a writer who has spent time putting together an article on Fair Trade Coffee is able to publish it to the web and allow individuals to save a copy, while licensing it for usage in a magazine or other publication to make a profit.

There’s no paradox here; it’s all a perfectly legitimate application of international copyright law. In fact, I’d go so far as to state it’s more legitimate than large business funding copyright law extensions ad infinitum to hold on to their so-called intellectual property. (alluded example: see white “(e)” link to the right)

The great thing about Creative Commons’ effort is that the work has already been done — they have written many individual licenses and give you the option to mix and match. For example, you may choose to hold on to commercial rights while allowing individuals to create derivative work. Or you might decide to release your work to the public domain. The supporting licenses are painstakingly detailed in the current fashion of legalese, but explained in plain English in terms that can’t be mistaken.

While the world becomes increasingly hostile to even parody and fair use, it’s refreshing to think that common sense options exist to the all-or-nothing approach of big business. I support the cause, and hereby license this site and all works contained therein under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 license to show it.

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