Choosing a free culture license ensures your work can be shared easily and fairly, for any purpose.
By default, international copyright law restricts sharing. Each person who wants to share your work must get your permission. Using a free culture license is a way to give permission proactively.
If you curate or take part in a sharing community, it is advisable to use and encourage others to use licenses that enable reuse. Informal sharing isn't hindered by these technicalities, but when someone wants to distribute widely, modify wildly, collaborate, or reuse for a profit, these technicalities become very important. Without an appropriate license, the easiest path would be to not include your work, which kind of misses the point of sharing it in the first place.
All free licenses permit:
- Sharing (copying, distributing and modifying the work and new versions of the work)
- Private use without an obligation to share
- Sharing without requiring an offer of support
- Sharing free of other restrictions (for example, technical restrictions, patent restrictions, sui generis database restrictions)
- Commerical use (by anyone)
- Most free licenses require simple acknowledgement of the author(s).
- A few free software licenses require a changelog (which is good practice anyway :D )
- Permissive licenses allow you to re-apply copyright restrictions, preventing further sharing (if you wish).
- Copyleft licenses ensure works remain free. You must always "share and share alike".
This diagram illustrates the terms as sets and subsets:
This diagram illustrates how one work may be re-used in another:
- copyleft -> copyleft
- permissive -> permissive
- permissive -> copyleft
- permissive -> restricted
- restricted -> nowhere
- boundary between restricted and free
- More Snowdrift discussion
- TODO: categories: art/entertainment, software, technical documentation
- TODO: history (movement since :fsf and beyond)
- TODO: discussion of credit, reference to microformat(s)
- "It's not free if I can't use it in my proprietary software" http://dustycloud.org/blog/field-guide-to-copyleft/#sec-2-4