Why Your Small Business Website May Benefit from a Creative Commons License

What small business owner wouldn’t love to see a bit of content he or she put up on the web, or a marketing campaign he or she launched on YouTube become known around the world? Especially if that content could generate just the right amount of new business! Everyone likes the idea of their content being shared, but no one wants to see their content stolen. This post will discuss the ways your small business website may benefit from a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons explains what they do:

[Creative Commons is a] digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

You might be thinking, “but I have a copyright symbol in the footer of my website!” In fact, creative work is protected in the United States the moment it is created – it belongs in that instant to the author. But there is a lot more to copyrights and licensing than you might think. When you mark your website with the copyright symbol, as most small business owners do, you are reiterating in effect, that visitors to your site cannot use your content without your express permission. Adding a license to your content, or portions of your content, is a way to define what parts you are willing to share and under what circumstances. If that sharing leads to more business for you, you want to make sharing easy! A copyright, in effect, may have the opposite effect.

Social Sharing of Small Business Website Content

Just a side note – when I say sharing in this context, I am not referring to the share buttons used for social sharing of small business website content that link to social media and allow people to share your content on their social feeds. These types of shares actually belong to the social media site you connected your web site to; in this sense you “released” your ownership of that content in the specific form it takes when shared on the social media site. In terms of licensing, I’m talking about specific creative works of your own, from your site, that people may want to share in their entirety. Examples might include detailed, informative blog posts, infographics, tools or calculators you created, and apps that you authored.

When to Use a Creative Commons License

It’s not hard to determine when to use a Creative Commons license; if you are creating content online and want to see it shared outside of social media, you should probably license it. A Creative Commons license can be in helpful in a couple of ways: First, it provides you with a simple way to license the content so that the intended use is well documented, which protects your legal position. Second, a clearly stated license will offer reassurances to someone who may want to share your content, but would be unwilling to do so if your intentions about sharing are not clearly stated. If you have creations you want circulated on the web, where a thumbs up from someone else has more value than anything you could ever say about your own work, then you may want to use a Creative Commons license. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, once you select and apply a license, your newly licensed content will be included in the Creative Commons repository and can be searched, discovered, used, and shared by people who need content to share and are looking for exactly the type of content you have created! How much will it cost to have your content included? Creative Commons is free, but you have the opportunity to donate.

Which Creative Commons License You Should Choose

As with so many things where there are repercussions, the best answer is… it depends. Which Creative Commons license you should choose is determined by your intentions and situation. But don’t worry, CC has come up with a simple license picker to help you decide on the best license for your particular situation. If you get stuck, use the handy Creative Commons FAQ.

A Creative Commons license isn’t for everyone – but there are benefits in the right situation. If you need help understanding when and if your small business website may benefit from a Creative Commons license, or have other questions about your intellectual property, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

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