Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Copyright, Copyleft, and Creative Commons

From Larry Lessig by way of Cory Doctorow blogging at BoingBoing:
In non-technical terms, [the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (THE "IP" court in the US)] has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.

I probably don't need to tell people how important copyright law is, and how important it is to get the details right when people want to share their work while still retaining their rights. (If you don't want to retain any rights, you can explicitly place your work into the public domain.) Even if you don't want to give your stories away, using a Creative Commons licence strikes me as a great way to make your stories available after they have already been published elsewhere; one example I learned about recently from John Scalzi's blog is Mary Robinette Kowal's free fiction page, for instance.

Obviously, this topic is near and dear to my heart since I use out-of-copyright works for my "Classic Flash" stories. Since copyright laws have changed over the years, you might get confused over what you can use and what you can't; if so, start with the librarycopyright.net Digital Slider, and follow the links to get further clarifying information.

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