Getting Creative Commons, commercially

While I talked last time about the search for a ‘brand identity’ for Collective Content, a couple of contacts have asked me about the old typewriter keyboard that currently adorns the site’s header.


There’s nothing complicated to say – apart from perhaps Shoot me for lack of originality and yes, it’s not a substitute for a proper logo.


But one thing did occur to me. The image is published under a commercial Creative Commons licence. If you don’t know about Creative Commons (CC), I’d urge you to start at the website.


In an age of over-zealous litigating and general complexity, CC has for some time been a bright spot, especially for those such as individuals and small businesses without the funds or desire to hire expensive lawyers.


For some, it has become the de facto way of sharing images and information online. But there are a few things to remember.


First, not every version of the CC licence allows for commercial use. It’s really important to play by the rules on this. If you take a major source of online images, for example Flickr, as I did for the above image, a tool such this becomes invaluable.


And second, at the heart of sharing using Creative Commons is attribution. In terms of commercial materials this means three things. As the always illuminating Amit Agarwal tells us on his blog, it breaks down as:

1         The creator’s screen name, including a link back to his or hers profile page

2         Citing the work’s title, with a link back to the original

3         Noting the specific Creative Commons licence the work is made available under, with a link back to info around that on the main CC website


Remember all that and a world of content and images opens up to you.


What’s more, if you’re a small business you can save money on stock images – not to mention nasty letters from lawyers I’ve already mentioned.


For a larger enterprise, say a media owner, it can also obviate the need to subscribe to something like Getty Images, which doesn’t come cheap but does come with lots of restrictions. They’d make a persuasive argument for you to use their service – and the quality is exceptional – especially if you’re in the news business. But I’ve published more than one well-known media brand where the above approach worked just fine.


Turns out Flickr isn’t just for uploading those photos of the sunsets on holiday.


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