As you may recall from my recent kerfuffle with procopywriters.com, I tend to get upset when I see people reusing my site content without my permission, especially if they are using it for profit. This is for a three reasons.
- I feel I have the right to profit from my work without having to compete with myself.
- I often encourage writers to post creative work in my comments (such as the 30 Poems in 30 Days project) and I do so with the understanding that I consider their work their own.
- I have paid for and published articles from other writers in the past and I have done so with the reasonable expectation that I respect their ownership of the copyright.
Yesterday, I read that Zenhabits.net, one of my favorite sites, is giving up all of its copyrights for the material published there. Leo Babauta, the author of the site wrote a post that says, in part:
From now on, there is no need to email me for permission. Use it however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around, put in a bunch of swear words and attribute them to me. It’s OK.
He goes on to discuss the ways that he would prefer that people share his work, but he makes it clear that his preferences are merely preferences. They are not binding. He has no intention of fighting ANY use of his site’s material. He has freely given up all rights.
I must admit that the idea intrigues me, and it is one I have thought about in the past. If I did so, however, I would have to do the following, just to feel right about it:
- I would have to either eliminate all previous articles by other writers OR get their permission to release their rights as well.
- I would have to give any past commenters the opportunity to remove their comments if they feel the need to keep their copyright intact.
- I would have to create a new comment policy that made it clear that all comments would be considered public domain, something that may discourage people from posting their creative work in the future.
- I would have to review the policies behind the stock photos I buy to determine any limitations and if I could not find a way to stay within their guidelines, I would have to replace that artwork.
- I would have to accept that there people will use words to make money without ever giving me credit, much less payment. However, I would no longer have to worry about enforcing my rights, which is always a painful process.
I am not saying I’m going to make this change. I am only considering it because I do feel it would make my life easier and give plenty of people legitimate opportunities to reuse my work without worry.
I want people’s input. I especially want input from people who have posted creative work for this site in the past, either as articles or comments. What do you think of a public domain policy? Is it a brilliant idea or the worst idea ever?