What’s Mine Isn’t Always Yours – The Importance of Creative Common Licensing

cc.large_No one appreciates their work being passed off as someone else’s, especially on purpose. To prevent this from happening, most businesses and individuals turn to Copyright for protection of their work. But, for young artists the minimum of $35 a pop for a copyright application just isn’t an option. Fortunately, that now isn’t the only option for business, organizations, or individuals who want to protect themselves and their work against copying and impostors. In 2001 an organization was formed under the name Creative Commons. Their mission: Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation, has led to their establishment of over 350 million Creative Common licensed works.


Creative Commons currently has six options for licensing. The licenses range from their least restrictive Attribution license, which allows of the remix and building up on one’s original work and only requires that credit is given to the original author/artists, to their most restrictive, Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives license, which requires all uses of original work to be kept as is, shared for non commercial use only and credit must to be given the author/artist. All of the CC licensing options, along with detailed descriptions can be found on the Creative Commons webpage.

My friend and local artist, Clay Anderson, currently does not utilize Copyright or Creative Commons licensing on any of his artwork. His art collection mainly consists of drawings and painting, most of which are created without specific clients or purpose in mind. He does supplement his original pieces with creations developed on commission for others to meet their individual desires. His work is sold through word of mouth or at specific events in our local community. At this time he doesn’t use a website or gallery to showcase is art and but give attention to his creations, in a casual manner, on his personal social media pages.

A specific piece of Clay’s work comes to mind when thinking about how Creative Commons could be beneficial for him. Clay crafted an original piece for a silent auction I was involved with a few years ago. 893709_644207115596363_2008026951_o (2) The piece, an over-sized drawing of a local First Nations woman, was showcased for two weeks at a local non-profit and then for the entire night of our open house during the event, where 200+ individuals were able to view and bid on the piece. The art went home to the highest bidder and was not seen again.

Who knows how many of the individuals that viewed the pieced had the capabilities of replicating the art off of the photo included on our brochure and website or if the original was possibly copied after the auction.  I doubt that either of those scenarios happened, but given the current state of copyright infringement lawsuits, it is clear people act in unfavorable ways.

Because Clay falls into the “starving young artist” category, he cannot afford or does he desire to copyright all of this art. But, I believe that he could greatly benefit from the use of CC licensing. After talking with Clay about his wishes for his art and the restrictions he thinks would provide him with the security he is interested in, it is my suggestion that he either licenses his work under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or Attribution-ShareAlike. The difference between these two licensing options, is the option for commercial use or not. This is a specification that Clay will need to consider and may change depending on the piece he is completing.

4 Attribution – ShareAlike: This license will allow for others to build upon and change up the original piece, but credit will need to be given to Clay and all further drafts or copies of the original piece will need to be licensed under the same terms. The original and new mixed versions of the piece can be used commercial use.

3 Attribution – NonCommercial – SharAlike: Similar to the license above, this will allow for others to remix and build upon the original piece and credit will need to be given to the artist. All changes and new creations of the original will need to be licensed under the same terms. This license however, does not allow for commercial use.

Implementing the use of Creative Common licensing into Clay’s work will protect his work, time and creativity while still allowing for others to benefit from his work. This option, compared to full Copyright, is a cost efficient choice that will continue to let Clay share his art and passion while collaborating and assisting other artists near and far.

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1 Comment

  1. Kasey,
    You had me at the title! I love it when a title draws me into the content. It also lived up to the content of your post. Nicely developed and you not only a good understanding of Creative Commons, Copyright and Fair Use, you also clearly shared this understanding with your audience.



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