Copyright Vs. Creative Commons

The protection and use of our work as content creators, because ultimately that’s exactly what bloggers are, is an important topic. It is also a virtual minefield of legal issues in one way or another. Hence the reason for this disclaimer:

The information presented herein represents the views of the author as of the date of publication. The publication is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. While every attempt has been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author nor its affiliates/partners assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. If advice concerning medical, legal or related matters is needed, the services of a fully qualified professional should be sought.


Copyright grants a creator of original work, whether it be textual, audible, or visual in nature a number of rights. These rights include the ability to copy, distribute, and make adaptations of the original work. These are exclusive rights that only the copyright holder (usually the creator) may grant temporarily or transfer perpetually to others. To perform any of those actions without the permission of the copyright holder is a copyright violation and is illegal.

You really can’t mention copyright without bringing up “fair use” or “fair dealings”. Fair use allows the usage of copyrighted material when it is being used in certain circumstances such as providing a commentary on the work, a criticism of the work, news reports about the work, when conducting research related to the work, and archival usage in a library.

Many bloggers use copyrighted material and claim that its “fair use” because it is on the internet. This is often the quickest way to run into a muck full of legal issues. Just because it is on the internet does NOT mean that your use of the material will be in the realm of “fair use”. Just as you would want your copyright respected, please respect the copyright of others.

If you need some tools to help display your copyright notices, the Copyright Symbol Webpage has some free resources you can use.

Creative Commons

It’s important to remember that the Internet itself was built from day one on the idea of an easy exchange of information towards a common goal, similar to the idea of sharing best practices in EMS. Copyright and the laws that bind it were created before the Internet existed. Therefore many of its laws seem to be at odds with the ideology and culture of sharing that can be found on the Internet. Creative Commons Licensing provides an option for content creators to allow easy access and proliferation of their content.

There are a number of options offered under a Creative Commons license structure such as:

  • Attribution: This license lets anyone distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work (including in a commercial environment) provided they give proper credit to the creator the original work
  • Attribution-Sharealike: This license lets anyone remix, tweak, and build upon a work (including in a commercial environment) provided they give proper credit to the creator and also license their new creations under the same license
  • Attribution-NoDerivs: This license lets anyone redistribute a work (in both a commercial and non-commercial environment), provided they do so by leaving the work unchanged and as a whole providing proper credit to the creator
  • Attribution-NonCommercial: This license lets anyone remix, tweak, and build upon a work for non-commercial use only but still providing the proper credit to the creator. The new work does not need to carry the same license as the original work
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike: This license allows anyone to remix, tweak, and build upon a work for non-commercial purposes provided they give proper credit to the creator and license the new work under the identical license
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: The most restrictive of the already built licenses, this one only allows others to download a work and share it with others as long as they credit the creator. The work can’t be used commercially and it can’t be built upon or changed

Whether you choose to Copyright or use Creative Commons License for your content is ultimately a personal decision based on how you want your content viewed. Those who want to keep control over it will opt for the standards of old school Copyright. Those who have embraced the internet culture of sharing will want to seriously consider Creative Commons to increase the exposure of their content which, ultimately, is their message.

Regardless, it is important to remember and respect the choices others have made regarding the licensing of their content.

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