Creative Commons–A Nonprofit’s Dream




I’m hoping most of you already are familiar with Creative Commons licenses, but it’s such a great notion that everyone should know about them.

Creative Commons, a nonprofit itself,  has opened the door for other nonprofits to: 1) raid a treasure trove of FREE creative content for their communications, and 2) more quickly spread their knowledge by enlisting new emissaries.

Years ago, many of us in nonprofit communications put “All rights reserved” copyright bugs on our major publications. It was a necessary policy in those days, but one that struck me as counterproductive. Here we were, trying to market new information, yet making it more difficult for people to share what we produced.

A the same time, copyrights choked us from the other direction. If we wanted quality content—say a photo—we either had to buy it at a high price from a stock photo shop or hire a professional photographer. That’s tough on a small budget.

But, thanks to the web’s strong collaborative push, a few years ago Creative Commons introduced new legal guidelines for the public use of intellectual property—a set of free licenses that allow creators to share their work with some rights reserved. The six main types of licenses, which complement copyright laws, are explained in CC’s comic book. They address issues like attribution, non-commercial or commercial use, derivative works, and more. 

One very visible example of how this liberation of content works is flickr, where many photos are are offered for free reuse under CC licenses. (On flickr, the level of rights reserved for each photo is posted on the bottom right of the page. You can even do an advanced search that limits the search to CC licensed photos.) Most of the time, that means you have to provide attribution for the photo and a link to the photographer’s CC license page. Many of the photos on this blog are from those generous flickr photographers. 

Thanks to Creative Commons, nonprofits all over the world now have access to a whole new universe of FREE photos, slideshows, graphics, videos, documents, writing, and art. To find CC content online, use Google advanced search and select “use rights” at the bottom of the window. I highly encourage nonprofits to return the favor and publish their own communications–whenever it makes sense–under Creative Commons licenses. Use this CC license generator to create your own license.

Photo credit: Mikipedia


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