Step 4: Copyright

wannawork.pngOne of the major concerns with putting up creative work online is with copyright. What is to prevent someone from visiting your blook, copying everything you’ve written and then publishing it under their name?

Well, if you’re not licensed – absolutely nothing.

Now what can you do? Not being licensed is taking a terrible risk, but applying for a copyright will be tedious at best – especially if you treat your blook as a side project. The answer lies between the two extremes – reserving some rights for little or no cost.

Creative Commons

I first heard about Creative Commons in 2002, where a budding community of content developers were already gathering. They have since expanded into 34 jurisdictions, with more in the draft process. At the heart of the Creative Commons effort is the want to create a culture of creativity – to provide an alternative to traditional content distributors. This spirit is in line with user generated content – a category blooks fall under.

So what is Creative Commons?
From their website:

Creative Commons is a new system, built within current copyright law, that allows you to share your creations with others and use music, movies, images, and text online that’s been marked with a Creative Commons license.

A simpler explanation: A Creative Commons license allows people to reproduce your work, but prevents them from using it commercially or allow modifications of said work. If they do, you have the legal power to sue them – since their actions breach the Creative Commons license your work was published under.

This is just one example of what a Creative Commons license covers – you can choose to allow modifications and commercial usage of your work, should you wish to. The system is flexible enough to accomodate your preferences – which rights you wish to keep, which rights you wish to open up.

How do I use Creative Commons in my blook?

1. Create a deed here.creativecommons.gif

2. Post a link or a logo (to the deed) on your blook, and make sure it is displayed on every page.

3. Done! Your work is now licensed under Creative Commons. Should you wish to publish a printed book you can opt to keep the work online under a CC license, but use a full copyright for the printed version. I cannot say how that can be done – I am nowhere near understanding legalese, so talk to a lawyer to look over your options for you.

GNU Free Documentation License

This is the license Wikipedia operates under. Can it be used for blooks? Well, yeah, it can. Should you? No, I don’t think so.

The license was designed for manuals, textbooks, other reference and instructional materials, and documentation which often accompanies GPL software. However, it can be used for any text-based work, regardless of subject matter.

The Free Documentation License does not allow commercial reuse of any form. It requires the ability to “copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially”, so publishing your blook through Lulu or a traditional publishing house would actually mean a violation of the license.

In closing I’d like to say that Creative Commons would be a better solution for blook authors. It protects your work and is flexible enough to allow you to publish it commercially later on.

The best thing about it? It’s free.

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Category: Writing Web Fiction
  • http://criticalmass.crazydreams.org/ CrazyDreamer

    As I understand it, any published work (putting it online is publishing it) is theoretically copyrighted, but in the U.S. you cannot sue for damages (only injunctions to make the other person stop) unless that copyright is registered.