Why the Creative Commons Makes so much more sense…

Today I was reading an article about the perils of blogging about the workplace. This is something I have always avoided. I think it’s ok to say something like, “Man, this guy was a real jerk to me in the cafeteria, I wonder what problems he was facing to feel that way.” It’s not ok to say, “Man, my boss is such an [insert favorite insult]” because that will just cause problems. Don’t think that he/she might not read it. Although I garner a few thousand hits to my website a month, I know that I have a pretty small audience compared to the more famous bloggers and I figured my blog to be relatively obscure. My wife’s neighbor googled me and found all sorts of stuff on my website that we presented as proof that he had researched me. (This is not as weird as it sounds, she grew up with him as a neighbor and he protects her as a niece or maybe even a daughter – and he’s a great guy) So, your boss might end up on your site too. Keep your comments as generic as possible and try not to mention your company by name and you’ll probably be ok. But I’m way off on a tangent from my purpose for writing this post.

The article, like all articles in a newspaper, is copyrighted. This means that the authors can legally impose prices upon those who wish to use the articles. The folly of copyrighting news in today’s technological world comes to light if you click on the “reuse or republish this article” button. This brought up a Java site that looked like:

I want to use this article in [box with list of choices]

Price: $$

[Click for Quote button]

For fun I decided to click on the list of choices to see what was available. There were standard entries such as: use this in a book, use in a CD-ROM, use in a newsletter,etc Then there were two that caught my eye: use this on a website, use this in an email.

To purchase the rights to publish the article on a website costs $100! This is completely unenforceable unless the person republishing has a famous website. If no one can ever find your website, they can never ask for the money. But this wasn’t the craziest part of this whole thing. To send the article via email costs $1. Does that make any sense? There is a button right next to the article that says, “email this article to friends.” This costs $0. But if you are “republishing” it you have to pay $1? However, things get even more absurd when you realize what happens with email. Let’s say I pay the dollar to email the article to you. There is no way for them to collect a fee from you if you turn around and email it to the entire world. The primary reason for this being the fact that anyone can go out there and get a free email address without even revealing their real identity. I certainly did that in the early 90s in order to have multiple email addresses.

The author would be better served by a Creative Commons license. With such a license he could have a attrib-deriv-no commercial license and would accomplish the same thing. This would mean that anyone could copy the article given that they gave him credit as the author and did not make any money off of it. After all, I don’t care if you copy every word of my blog as long as you clarify that *I* wrote it, not you, and you don’t make any money off of it. After all, these are my thoughts and if anyone is going to make money it should be me (or you and I), so I think it’s only fair. That way information is distributed and authors make money if others are going to make money. After all, do you really think that anyone who uses it in a newsletter or email is really going to pay you? No, so why make them criminals?

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