This afternoon I had a conversation with someone who is building a repository. More and more digital repositories are springing up to collect content of all types and make it more accessible. While that is a good thing, the problem is that they often find content that they want to collect, but:
- Don't know if the owner wants it to be redistribute (distribution is a right of the copyright owner)
- Don't know who owns is or how to contact him/her/it in order to seek permission
In the United States, once words are in a fixed medium they are copyrighted. Period. We may want our words (text) to be disseminated or even to 'go viral', but legally they can't unless we give people permission. The easiest way to give permission is through a Creative Commons license. If you are unfamiliar with those, please follow the link and then use one of the licenses on works that you want people to share. Doing so will help all of us.