Monday, May 31, 2010

Introduction to Remixable Web Content

So, what are we talking about when we talk about "Creative Commons web content"?

Basically, we are talking about websites that expressly allow forwarding and reprinting of content with proper credit given.

Nowadays, it's so easy to cut and paste news stories, blog articles and other web content that many bloggers do so without really thinking about it. However, much the same as in the case of music and film companies, news media companies have recently begun to express their dissatisfaction with the fact that many bloggers who do well enough to make a nice side income, or even an entire living off their blogs do so using a lot of content from news sites without any permission (click below to read more).

Overall, it seems that a lot of paid writers and written content creators are now coming into line with other copyrighted material based industries of taking a more combative stance towards bloggers and ordinary web users, locking down their content to ensure that their content can only be viewed on websites they control and get ad revenue from, or on a pay-per-read basis through the use of membership based websites, and closed offline systems such as iPhone and iPad apps.

The greater looming threat is that people who post news article texts to their blogs are likely to soon be facing the kind of DMCA hell that YouTube users already know all too well. It is certainly fair that blogs that have become businesses themselves should pay for permission to relay content they feature, but the question is where this leaves the ordinary blogger. Once again, people only meaning to share and spread web based content they like or are interested in are being labelled "thieves" and "pirates", and the implication is that if you are not in the content creation business, you have no right to talk about web content you are interested in.

The good news is that not everyone sees things this way, and just like the locking down of music has lead to a flourishing world of web content licensed under Creative Commons allowing innovative music artists to get their content heard, a lot of websites are also ensuring their own relevance and survival by attaching CC licenses to their written content that allows people to quote and apply their content in blogs, school projects, work presentations, and just about anything else you can think of.

Below are some examples of websites with written content made available for others to use under Creative Commons. This is content that you can use safe in the knowledge that, provided you follow the license conditions correctly, you can quote and use the material from these sites without the risk of being dragged into court or being forced to hand over thousands of dollars for using it in your blog.

Wikipedia (BY-SA)
Yes, the King-Daddy of web content, allows you to quote and repost content from this free internet encyclopedia, so long as you give credit to where you got the content from, and you must attach the same BY-SA license to whatever you quote it in (click HERE for information on how to license your own content).

IntraText (BY-NC-SA)
IntraText is a site that features over 12 million texts, both historical and modern, in a range of languages, on a broad range of topics. Note that some of the materials provided contain specific licenses that differ from the generally applied BY-NC-SA license so be sure to check and follow the applicable license correctly before copying.

Unearth Travel (BY-SA)
This site is a wiki based site that allows users to contribute information on travel destinations and propose travel itineraries around the world, with over 1 million articles and resources already, all using a BY-SA license.
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