How the Creative Commons License Can Save You Money

Creative Commons is an organization that balances creators' copyrights with Internet users' free access to images and information. Find out how Creative Commons can save you money, no matter what project you are working on.

Save Money

Since 2001, the Creative Commons (CC) organization has helped content creators navigate the choppy waters of copyright laws while making something that can be freely shared with the rest of the world. Upon their last estimate, CC calculated they'd licensed roughly 350 million works in a decade. How can you - and your pocketbook - benefit from CC licensing?

As a Content Creator

If you create content for a living, having a top-notch product probably means a lot to you. It's usually not easy to put together some great work - be it a lecture, a book or a piece of music or art - and often it's far from cheap. That's doubly true if you want to use someone else's content to complement your own. Textbook authors, for example, have to pay to use the photographs their books include - that's even true for Internet textbooks, as tempting as it may be to merely copy an image, paste it on your own page and forget about it.

That's where Creative Commons licensing comes in. Creators who've opted to license their work with CC make it easy for others to, as the video website Vimeo puts it, 'recycle, remix and re-use' content (Vimeo, by the way, allows uploaders to select several different types of CC licensing for their videos). Depending on the license the original creator chooses (there are six different options), those inspired by that work can redistribute it for free (with proper credit) or change it to suit their needs; some licenses even allow for commercial uses, and it's all totally legal. What that means is that no matter the field you work in or the type of work you're doing, there are probably CC-licensed works out there that can make your product better - and all you have to pay is a little credit.

As Anybody Else

Of course, CC licensing helps more than just content creators to save money. That's especially true if you're a college student or lifelong learner, thanks to CC's support of Open Educational Resources (OER). This popular and growing education movement features content like lecture notes, videos, podcasts, textbooks and more, all available freely for students and other educators to use as they see fit. OER repositories make it possible for students all around the world to educate themselves for free in almost any topic they can imagine - think of all the savings there.

Make Money

Saving money is great, but it's also important to note that CC licensing can do you one better - it can earn you cash. First, it must be stated that a CC license doesn't bar you from entering into other, revenue-generating licenses with your material - you can license a piece of art for non-commercial Internet consumption, for instance, but also sell it to commercial entities, depending on the license you have.

What that means is that you can use CC licensing to build a sizable audience for your creations - an audience that distributes and remixes them freely - and then use the interest you've generated in your product to produce revenue. Several music blogs recommend just such a tactic for budding musicians; one, The Future Buzz, goes so far as to claim that 'a CC license is the ultimate music promotion tool.'

Similarly, for budding film creators, the distributor Film Annex allows CC-licensed videos to engage in advertising revenue sharing, with content creators getting up to 50% of the money generated. This provides a simple way for creators to embrace the spirit of sharing and collaboration while making a little money for their efforts.

Of course, many users probably don't think too much about making money when they opt for CC licensing - they just want to distribute their product to as many people as possible. It's that intellectual currency that bestows real value on CC-licensed works. That said, for those who aren't sure about the work CC does, framing things in terms of the bottom line can only help win over doubters, and in the end, it seems the more people who use CC licensing, the richer we all are… in one way or another.

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