Thursday, June 4, 2009

"All Rights Reserved." All Wrong?

Given the nature of what we do here at IssueLab -- archiving and disseminating research created by others -- well, let's just say copyright is one of our biggest issues!

Most of the research that is shared through IssueLab carries what seems to be a crystal chandelier clear "all rights reserved" notice. We've all seen this copyright tag-line on gazillions of web sites right? Get this: it doesn't mean anything. Truly, it's simply restating the obvious.

Copyright occurs the minute you put pen to paper. You write it, you own it -- all of it. In other words, you hold the rights to how your work is or isn't used/reused. Now, "all rights reserved" does have that out-loud-and-in-your-face "you better not!" quality to it, but let's think about those three words in that particular combination for just a minute.

Putting your written work out there in the interest of sharing and then telling the people you are sharing with, "you do anything with this information and you are in big trouble", well..., it's sort of a mixed message, no? Think about what you really want to get out of sharing your work. Maybe you want to make sure that you are credited. Or that your work is cited correctly. Or you want your work to be part of a discourse or collaborative effort.

There is a way to safeguard your work, clearly inform others of just how they can use it, and share it worry-free: Creative Commons (CC) licensing. We push CC licensing because of its granular nature and its ease of comprehension on both sides of rights notification.

"With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit -- and only on the conditions you specify." -- Creative Commons, "License Your Work"

Now, does "Copyright 2009 Me. All rights reserved." convey sharing? Does the word "collaborate" come to mind when you read that sentence? Do you really want the information you hold to go no further than you holding the information? If you answered "no" to any of these questions please consider Creative Commons licensing. It's definitely a step in the right direction.

Happy sharing!

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