Gratitude 007: Creative Commons

“A journey of 365 blog posts begins with a single CC-licensed image”

-Lao Tzu???

Starting something new is difficult. We often want to get everything “just right” before launching. I almost didn’t start this blog. Luckily, work created under Creative Commons licenses allowed me to take that first single step. As I was perusing the catalog of WordPress themes on January 1st, I noticed something I’d overlooked: I’m going to need a striking image to go with each post! Yes, EACH post. All 365 of them! It was almost enough for me to shelve this project, along with our bathroom’s pocket door, my children’s book, and my education podcast. Without the immense selection of images with CC licenses, this blog would be mothballed.

Copyright is a wonderful thing. Copyright encourages people to create new and innovative stuff by granting many rights to the creator. Under current U.S. law, these rights are automatically granted, from the moment of creation. For example, as soon as I take a picture with my camera, I own the rights to the display, reproduction, and distribution of that image for the rest of my life and for 70 years after my death! Yes, that gives me great financial incentive to create wonderful work. However, what if I don’t ever intend to capitalize on those rights? Perhaps I would just like to share my work with the world and let others use it, or even remix and modify it?

Enter the idea of Creative Commons. Creative Commons offers individuals and entities options for selecting licenses for their work that indicate the rights they wish to waive or retain. By licensing one’s work with a CC license, a creator can grant various permissions to others to use their work for their own purposes. These generous people share their work with others to help remove barriers to creation and expression, and help create a more vibrant commons. Without CC licenses, to use an image on this blog, I would have to track down the copyright holder, request their permission to use the image, and wait to receive it (if granted at all). CC licenses grease the wheels for content creation.

So today and every day, I am grateful for the people behind Creative Commons, and the creators who make their work available to others under the various CC licenses. It is no exaggeration to state that this blog would not exist without the images licensed under Creative Commons.

A note about the feature image:  I didn’t realize there was such a great selection of images with CC0 licenses out there. By applying a CC0 license, the creator waives all rights to copyright, essentially placing it in the public domain. This allows anybody to reuse, remix, and build upon the creator’s work, all without attribution. However, I’m so grateful for these people, I’ve got to give a shoutout. The image is from user Sebastian Unrau, posted on Unsplash, which offers beautiful high-resolution photos, all under a CC0 license. It would take me a lifetime to get a shot as good as this one! If I had to use all my own images, well…

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