Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creative Commons, Part 1

I dabble in website construction and design. My first website was a personal one, and it was powered by Yahoo! Geocities (now defunct). The code was pretty basic; nonetheless, I was proud of what I had accomplished. My next encounter with building code was the year LiveJournal became popular amongst teens and college students. Though LiveJournal was a website in itself, hosting personal blogs, the makers of the same allowed its users some freedom in manipulating code for the purpose of personalization. Fast forward to less than two years ago, I found myself building a website for an international not-for-profit organization: the Asian Society for Labor Law. I did not want to make use of a template, so I had to build the website from scratch, pushing my knowledge of code to limits I never thought I was capable of reaching and surpassing.

Building code is hard enough. I did not realize at the time I was making the site that code was just the tip of the iceberg. Since the organization I was designing and building the site for was law-oriented, I had to make sure that the elements I used for the site--pictures, text, etc.--were either licensed or released for use by their respective makers or owners. The process of asking for permission was a painful one because I had to e-mail the people concerned individually and pray to god that they find the time to reply to some poor sap's supplications. One day, I was about to lose it because the website was still lacking many elements--mostly images--and my deadline was just around the corner. As expected, many of those I e-mailed either did not reply or did not allow me to use their work on the website. I was this close to pulling hair off my head. As I rambled on about my bad luck, a friend of mine, a professional web designer, chanced upon me. It was through him that I learned of "creative commons."

Note: The video above does not belong to me. No copyright infringement intended. All rights revert back to the owner. Video sourced from

Creative commons provided the solution to my copyright-related problems. I found out that there are many copyrighted works online that are licensed through creative commons. Its infrastructure consists of "a set of copyright licenses and tools [that allow] x x x individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work--a 'some rights reserved' approach to copyright--which makes their creative, educational, and scientific content instantly more compatible with the full potential of the [I]nternet." Its main goal is universal access without doing harm to copyright law.

Creative commons has many licenses to choose from. What they are shall be the topic of my next blog entry.

Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 will be posted next week.

--Jan Nicklaus S. Bunag, Entry No. 10

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