The Ethics of Sharing using Creative Commons

Posted by Sarah Andrews

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that allows creative professionals to share their work easily in the public domain. It allows the creator to waive copyright and share her or his work with others.


Using Creative Commons is a great way to share your work with the online community, but does this make your work an easy target for plagiarism? 

Design Taxi recently featured a blog post by artist Kirsty Hall discussing how artists can use Creative Commons. She explains that she had taken advantage of other people’s images on her blog, so it made sense for her to share her own work, too. It was an easy way for her to get more people to see her work.

Though the benefits of sharing on Creative Commons are numerous, Hall warns that there is also a risk of having your work stolen. It’s  a risk you have to take. Even work that is under strict copyright is easily up for grabs when it’s published on the Internet. There’s no telling how many people could download your work and call it their own.

This free-for-all environment isn’t limited to artistic or graphic work. It’s just as easy to copy and paste a story and simply change the byline. The Internet has created an environment of instant sharing, especially among journalists, and plagiarism is an unfortunate result.

Anything you post online is subject to bloggers and potential thieves. The creator has to trust the online honor system despite the risk.

Would you embrace a community like this for sharing your work? What kind of restrictions would you enforce?

5 responses to “The Ethics of Sharing using Creative Commons

  1. I’ve used Creative Commons for blog posting before and I find it really helpful. Everything on the Internet is potential for theft, as Hall says, and I agree that this risk is just one that has to be dealt with if you so choose to post your work. I would enforce restrictions that include crediting me, but that would be it.

  2. Kelly Hendricks

    Like Alyssa, the only restriction I would enforce would be to credit me. If you are going to put your work on the internet, you have to expect that some people will take advantage.

  3. I find as as consumer, I love Creative Commons. It allows me to find and use other’s people’s work, with restrictions. However, as a designer, I see it as a risk. Unlike big companies with lots of money and big name lawyers, I don’t have time to search the Internet and make sure people are following the restrictions I place on my work. Although I would love to see my work get recognition, I’m not sure it’s always worth it to put it out in the world wide web.

  4. I use CC pretty much every time I need a picture for an article. Excellent resource, as long as the writer attributes the picture to the user.

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