Creative Commons:
What does 'Share Alike' mean?


What's the point?

How to licence your content

How to use Creative Commons content

What determines 'commercial use'?

What does 'sharealike' mean?

What kind of content is available?

Why worry about copyright in the first palce?

Sources of Creative Commons-licenced content

The final word

Something that's a little less traditional than the commercial/non-commercial use clause is the 'share alike' prerequisite which can be imposed.

This is used where content creators are happy for their work to be reused, but want the end results to be published using the same 'share alike' Creative Commons license conditions. This is as close as the Creative Commons concept gets to the idealistic fiction of 'information wanting to be free', but it does serve a useful purpose in ensuring that those who use licensed work make public contributions as well.

There are differences in detail between copyright legislation in different countries around the world, but the general picture, for Western countries at least, is pretty much the same. The Creative Commons organisation is working on tailoring licenses for different countries around the world, and the UK licenses are still being developed, but for now the US Copyright Act-based standard licenses are recommended. These are, as the organisation puts it, 'jurisdiction-agnostic'; they don't refer to specific country-specific statutes or provisions. It admits that it is conceivable that some aspects of the licenses may not be a perfect fit with a particular jurisdiction's laws, but they are designed to work as intended as fully as any general copyright declaration can around the world.

One question that arises is what happens if you use something that's published under a regular license, but it is later changed to a non-commercial license. Fortunately, as Creative Commons works entirely within current copyright law, the basic answer is fairly simple. Content used based on a certain license remains governed by the license in place when published, so if commercial use permission was granted and then later, after you make professional use of the content, is withdrawn, you shouldn't find yourself in trouble as regards the existing published results. However, making further reuse of that content may not be so safe. Ignorance of license restriction isn't generally considered a viable excuse in law, although it may well be arguable that it is unreasonable to expect you to recheck every time you use something.

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