I’ve just read Parajunkee’s Book Blogging 101: Copyright Infringement and whilst she makes some valid points, I was concerned enough about the recommendation to use Creative Commons that I had to write this article. Now Parajunkee is an extremely influential blogger and I can just see many young, inexperienced bloggers blindly slapping on a Creative Commons license without knowing the impact.

I do think Creative Commons licensing is a wonderful thing for those who wish to share their content, be it writing or photography, without the hassle of giving permission on a case by case basis. However if you want to protect your posts from being re-used, it is not for you!

There are a selection of Creative Commons licenses and it’s important that you understand what they mean before you get upset that someone has “stolen” from you. You can find out more about them here.

For my photography and blog I tend towards an All Rights Reserved copyright statement. This is not CC, but the more traditional license that would require written permission for someone to use my stuff. However I do occasionally offer CC licenses on photos, especially those designed to be textures. For these I use Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) which allows people to use them for non-profit purposes providing they give me credit. They do not need to contact me at all to let me know they are doing this. Therefore I should not be surprised if I stumble across this content on the web.

I would generally suggest a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND license for bloggers if they don’t want to reserve all rights. ND stands for No-Derivs which means the content cannot be changed in any way. I personally like to give a bit more flexibility if I have decided to make my photos available but you might feel different for your writing.

All CC licences include Attribution (BY) which means that you get credit for the original content. If you’re using CC content created by others in your posts, you should always credit them and/or link to the original.

ShareAlike (SA) licenses mean that content can be changed but must be posted under the same license as the original so that others can re-use again. If you do not specify NonCommercial (NC), your content can be used for commercial means.

If you intend to make money from your content, eg. selling photographs, you should really stick to All Rights Reserved. Getty, for example, won’t be best pleased if you’re offering content for free when they’re trying to sell it! If you decide to change your license to a more-restrictive one, you need to be flexible to those that have used it whilst the old license was in force. If you find your CC content elsewhere and change your license type, you can’t really go round asking for that existing content to be removed. Even if you had put the wrong license on in the first place.

Bottom line is, Creative Commons encourages people to use your content. If you still want to go down that route, use this handy tool to help you choose your license.

If you’ve found this useful, please tweet about it or share by other means. I’m in no way in the same league as Parajunkee but I feel the need to educate people as much as I can.