Many times I have said, er boasted, that pretty much form the time I started this ed tech computer work, I’ve made it a habit to give away, for free, just about anything I’ve made. I do believe it comes back to you. And it has, in the forms of invitations to visit some wonderful islands like Iceland, New Zealand (a second time), Australia (twice too!)… as well as spawning a world sprawling network of connections that might never have happened otherwise.
This came about in my very early years, as I discovered the joy of finding/mining for nifty desktop applications, HyperCard source code, etc on the Info-Mac ftp server then at Stanford (long live sumex-aim!). And I was lobbying my bits into the free space from the time of setting up my first gopher and web servers at Maricopa.
I tossed things onto my old grey home page, and I continue to get requests or thanks for some really old photos from the desert. It went on with the idea behind the Director Web site and really lurked in the foundation of the Maricopa Learning eXchange.
So when Creative Commons came online, I was all over it as it just made so much sense — taking the guesswork about using other’s material and making it easier for them to use your own. So since then, I applied my logic to what the terms said by using the license for Attribution (makes sense), Non-Commercial (if you want to make money, then you can ask, but hey, this is for the free sector), and Share-Alike (pass it on, eh?).
But recently a blog post and some emails with Beth, and her links to background by Mike Seyfang are opening my eyes that what seemed sensible to me might actually be restrictive on spreading the free stuff – some things with NC licenses fall off of search tools, and Share-Alike apparently gets caught up in some remixes.
But the funny part is that I have fallen in a trap I have sometimes accused others of- that is over-estimating the monetary value of my own content, by having the fear that Some Big Evil Moneygrubbing Corporate Entity will get Fabulously Wealthy By Using My Stuff. As Mike wrote:
Because I figure the RISK of my digital work never being discovered/re-mixed outweighs the RISK of being ripped-off (cheated out of money I deserve) or having some evil corporation “˜do a blackboard on me’.
referring to a statement by Stephen Downes about his reasons for NC.
So I am considering, pondering, swaying that the most free, is the simple BY Attribution license, and until someone strongly can compel me backward, have switched this on my blog and my flickr collections.
It’s simple, direct, and says, “use it, just give me credit and/or a link.” Okay, so when X-Mart grabs my photo of Alien Faces in Juniper Berries and makes a gazillion dollars on some new product ad, I might be sorry when all I get is a credit. Because what is more likely to happen, and more fruitful are examples where some German rock band uses my photo of Death Valley on their CD.
All of this assumes a lot– that people really bother to look at the licenses or even understand it. For as long as it has been “out there”, I continually see at conference workshops rather blank expressions when I ask about turning to CC repositories to find media, and incredulous surprise when they see what is there… free for the using.
So… let free be really free, wildly and openly free. Free it forward. Not Free With a Confusing Asterisk, but Free, Period.