Creative Commons For Bloggers

Posted by Lior Weinstein on Saturday, Aug 16th, 2008
Category : Uncategorized

In our last post on Creative Commons I explained the general ideas behind licensing your content and some of the advantages this gives you. Today I will look at Creative Commons for bloggers in particular.

Since the last article I have added a Creative Commons license to my own blog. An “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported” licsense, in fact. I did this easily using a WordPress plugin made especially for the job called WpLicense. While the most recent version refused to work for me, I had more joy with an older release. As well as painlessly adding the appropriate button and meta data to your blog, it also makes the license selection process easy.

Why would a blogger, someone who makes a living at least in part from selling content, use a Creative Commons license?

It’s simple really. My blog is an advert. Each article is like a free sample. I give away a free ebook (which will also be getting the CC license treatment using Cogniviews excellent Creative Commons PDF Converter!). This is all to get my ideas and advice, and with it my name, to spread. Creative Commons helps spread ideas. Giving stuff away is a great marketing tactic, as the sci-fi author Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing and Craphound fame will tell you.

Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free e-book as a substitute for the printed book–those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the e-book as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game.

In fact Seth Godin wrote a whole book about the tactic!

As Yoav said in a recent discussion of this topic …

The trick is to license different works with a different license. Use a very permissive license for the work you want to act as your marketing agent. And a very strict license (maybe even an all rights reserved) for the work you want to profit from.

You have to decide for each piece of work what is important to you, which rights are needed and which will hold you back.

For example I am still not sure if to allow derivative works. On the one hand it would allow people to spread my thoughts further, but on the other hand, especially the ebook, it only really works when read in its entirety. One thing I was decided on was the non-commercial use, if anyone is going to earn from my content I want it to be me, but does that stop businesses sharing my ebook with their clients?

So there are some things you will need to decide but I am sure, like me, you will find it useful for your own businesses to think about these things!

Giving away ideas leads to further opportunities

I have always seen blogging as a path to other things rather than an end in itself. Rather than jealously guarding our ideas we should help them spread and provide as much value to our audience as possible. Like me you will discover when you do that your audience rewards you over and over. As Cory says …

It’s good business for me, too. This “market research” of giving away e-books sells printed books. What’s more, having my books more widely read opens many other opportunities for me to earn a living from activities around my writing, such as the Fulbright Chair I got at USC this year, this high-paying article in Forbes, speaking engagements and other opportunities to teach, write and license my work for translation and adaptation. My fans’ tireless evangelism for my work doesn’t just sell books–it sells me.

Are you ready to Creative Commons license your work? What might hold you back? Let us know in the comments …

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