what is copyright?copyright symbol

Most people are familiar with the term “copyright”, as well as the © symbol, not to mention the accompanying catchphrase “all rights reserved”.  Fewer folks, however, are familiar with Creative Commons licensing, which is far more adaptable than standard copyright.  I’ve chosen to use Creative Commons and not standard copyright restrictions for the Joy of Kink, this post explains why.

Copyright is about protecting an individual’s personal artistic creations.  It’s a legal device that gives an author the sole right to publish, sell, recreate, or distribute their creation.  The author can also grant (or sell) those rights to others, for instance a publisher.  Copyright law is what allows the publishing (as well as recording, movie/television, etc.) to work as we know them.  Artists of all kinds depend on copyright for the business side of their art.  Essentially then, copyright is about commerce and artistic control.

Now, with that said, I should also add that I’m not an attorney.  I don’t want my description of copyright to confuse or mislead anyone.  So, I’m going to include a more complete definition of copyright from the Free Dictionary / Legal Dictionary.

A bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom he or she transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale.

A copyright is a legal device that gives the creator of a literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work the sole right to publish and sell that work. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, including publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement.

Copyright is distinct from other forms of creator protection such as Patents1, which give inventors exclusive rights over use of their inventions, and Trademarks2, which are legally protected words or symbols or certain other distinguishing features that represent products or services. Similarly, whereas a patent protects the application of an idea, and a trademark protects a device that indicates the provider of particular services or goods, copyright protects the expression of an idea. Whereas the operative notion in patents is novelty, so that a patent represents some invention that is new and has never been made before, the basic concept behind copyright is originality, so that a copyright represents something that has originated from a particular author and not from another. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are all examples of what is known in the law as Intellectual Property.

If you have further curiosity about copyright, I do recommend reading the Free Dictionary’s full entry, the excerpt I’ve provided is just a small part of the article.  That particular copyright article also goes into the history of copyright law, explains infringement and fair use, as well as giving real world examples of copyright law in action, and a plethora of other nice tidbits.  And, as always, if you need legal advice on copyright, please see an attorney.

If the Joy of Kink used standard copyright protections, I’d have a notice at the bottom of the site that looks something like this –

Copyright 2014- Michael Samadhi’s Joy of Kink – All Rights Reserved

That’s not the level of copyright protection I prefer, as there are some rights I’d prefer not to reserve, which leads us to Creative Commons.

what is creative commons?

creative commons logo

What if I don’t want to reserve all rights?  What if I want to give people permission to re-post my work on message boards, or even their own blogs, as long as they give me credit as the original author?  That’s where a Creative Commons license becomes essential.

Creative Commons is a form of copyright, but it offers alternatives that aren’t available from standard copyright protections.  From an author’s standpoint, a Creative Commons license gives me the right to allow my writing to be shared, re-used, and even built upon by others.  The fact that Creative Commons offers a variety of licenses, gives even more added flexibility and control above and beyond just allowing my work to be shared.  For instance, I can stipulate that my writing only be used for non-commercial purposes, and/or dictate that it not be altered in re-use.

Here’s how Creative Commons describes itself:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

Designed to be very adaptable, Creative Commons offers a variety of levels of licenses, including those that qualify for the class – Approved for Free Cultural Works.  Those are the least restrictive of the Creative Commons licenses, it’s the category of license that Wikipedia and Wikimedia sites are under.  From the perspective of a “content provider” (i.e. author) this particular classification is much like applying the principles of free “open source” software  to our own creations.

I choose Creative Commonsfree cultural works seal

I’ve chosen to apply Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license to Michael Samadhi’s Joy of Kink.  That means that you, the reader, have the following rights:

You are free to:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

That’s what’s called a human-readable summary of the selected license.  Creative Commons also provides a page with the full legal code for the particular copyright protections I choose.

Joy of BDSM page divider by Serafina Samadhi

Many of my writings on a different topic, for a different community, survive on the Internet more than a decade after I originally shared them, but the site they were written for is long gone.  Those writings survived because I offered them under a similar license to the works you find here.  I’ve taken that to heart.  It’s inspired me to offer the Joy of Kink under similar terms.

I guess at heart I’m an open source guy.  When it comes to word processing, for instance, I use Open Office.  Obviously, this blog is powered by Word Press.  I even choose to use Firefox as my browser because it also is open source.  So, it’s completely consistent with my world view that I offer my writing on similar terms.  With that in mind, unless otherwise noted, Michael Samadhi’s Joy of Kink is offered to the community under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

My writings are intended to be a gift to the kink/BDSM community.  Please feel free to share articles and essays as widely as you may wish.  Just remember to credit the author, and to “share alike” for works which have been altered or transformed, they must carry the same Creative Commons license as well.

Joy of BDSM page divider by Serafina Samadhi

  1. A patent is a specific right, granted to inventors by the federal government, pursuant to its power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the U.S. Constitution, that permit them to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a definite, or restricted, period of time. The U.S. patent system is designed to encourage inventions that are useful to society by granting inventors the absolute right to exclude all others from using or profiting from their invention for a limited time, in exchange for disclosing the details of the invention to the public. Once a patent has expired, the public then has the right to make, use, or sell the invention. 
  2. A trademark is a device, word or combination of words, or symbol that indicates the source or ownership of a product or service. A trademark can be a name, such as Adidas, or a symbol, such as McDonald’s golden arches, or it can be a combination of the two, such as when the NIKE name is written with the “swoosh” symbol beneath it. In very limited cases, a shape or even a distinctive color can become a trademark.
Administrative Copyright Versus Creative Commons
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