Copyright Your Creations in Cyberspace!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cyberspace is an unlimited realm composed of people and media content. This media content consists of artwork, music, images and more user creations. What happens when you create something, upload it to the Internet and a week later you see someone else using your material without your permission, and even worse, without giving you any credit?

When people create media, artwork, or anything made from scratch, they own copyright to the material. They have an “all rights reserved” copyright, where people can’t duplicate, use or sell the work without the creator’s permission. For example, when musicians create music through a music label, their songs get approved for copyright as long as they aren’t using another artist’s work without permission. There are certain standards that must be met in order to obtain copyright for media outside of the Internet. In regards to cyberspace, there’s no way to police all the media content but obtaining a license online isn't too difficult. Social networking sites,, blogs, and other websites don’t have to follow any copyright laws so the pressure of protecting the rights to your own creation is even more prominent. People upload modifications or originals of copyrighted pictures all the time, even on Facebook, and these websites can't regulate the usage of the media.

Some creators don’t mind if other people on the Internet use their work. However, sharing created work may be an atrocious thought for those who are very protective of their work but with many forms of media being available today on the Internet, it’s better to be safe than sorry by licensing online media.  That’s where Creative Commons comes in. It’s a non-profit organization that provides licensing options to Internet users. Singers like Kendra Springer has used Jamendo, a music search site with Creative Commons licensed material, to provide her music for listeners to enjoy.


Creative Commons is a useful tool for independent content producers to license their creations on the Internet. The licensing options vary, from “All rights reserved” to “Some rights reserved.” Different attributions for these licenses can be viewed here.  Musical Artists like Josh Woodward use Creative Commons to provide their music for free online while allowing listeners to use the songs for videos or other purposes as long as they give Woodward credit. New York Cartoonist Matthew Diffee may upload a cartoon he created an choose to license it as “All rights reserved” which would mean a viewer cannot alter the cartoon in any way.

For those that want nothing to do with copyright, they can license their work as "no rights reserved" to let easy and open access to viewers. People can take the creator's work and modify it any way they like. If I created a song and chose this kind of licensing, people can take apart the song, build upon it, modify it and even use it without giving me credit since I claim no rights over it. 

According to the video by Creative Commons below, “Copyright protects your creativity against uses you don’t consent to.”

Creative commons allows free copyright licenses to allow people to tell others what parts of their work is allowed to be used. So let's say I want to license a political cartoon I created. I can choose an appropriate Creative Commons license and let viewers know if they can reproduce it, alter it or post it on their pages as long as they give me credit.

After doing intensive research on Creative Commons and reading their Facts and Questions page, I have come to the conclusion that Creative Commons is an innovative tool to help users protect their work while allowing for the distribution of it, especially for educational purposes. If I were to create something one day, I know that I wouldn't want someone to take my work without giving me credit. Additionally I don't want to ever violate someone's copyright by misusing or misrepresenting their work.

Microsoft allows people to download an add-in to quickly license their work in Microsoft 2007. I think Microsoft backing up Creative Commons is very helpful to the non-profit organization and efficient for the creators. There's no lengthy process involved in obtaining a Creative Commons license for your work. The download add-in can be viewed here. 

The Creative Commons website quotes, “The idea is to protect you from abuse while offering a stated public license to your work which allows you to specify what rights are reserved, including copyright." Even the White House's website has media content under the Creative Commons license! This non-profit organization may not be able to police the proper use of media content online, but it does raise awareness about online copyright usage and help further the sharing of media content online!

Further information about Creative Commons can be found here.

Works Cited:

T-Shirt "Some Rights Reserved" Image found at: licensed by Creative Commons.

Josh Woodward CD Picture found through Creative Commons Search site licensed by Creative Commons.

Kendra Springer Music link obtained from Jamendo: Creator of music is Kendra Springer, music licensed by Creative Commons.

Creative Commons video from organization's website created by Creative Commons, embedded from YouTube: licensed by Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons Website link: licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Democracy's Long Tail

Monday, February 1, 2010


Having lived my entire life in the United States, I might never know what it's like to be censored online as heavily as citizens of other countries are. People living in countries like Iran, China, and Burma have their resources and online content filtered by the government so the country's leaders can maintain their agenda of full reign over its people. In cyberspace, the world is literally flat with information and news being updated instantaneously. For Netizens (citizens in nondemocratic countries), this kind of Western technology can expose the truth about what happens inside borders as well as the juicy details of government corruption that could result in social and political change. For the dictatorial government, change out of their power is something to fear. To the people of the country, this change is sometimes a matter of life and death.

Google China was launched in 2006 with the goal of allowing Chinese citizens to surf the web and do business while having some government chosen content blocked online. Among the blocked content are websites or pictures that the Chinese government finds offensive, harmful, or threatening to the country. Americans have access to Twitter, YouTube, all websites on Google as well as Facebook. Chinese citizens don't have access to these kinds of websites because the country has set up a censorship and surveillance firewall called the Great Firewall of China. This firewall blocks many websites and many citizens don't know how to bypass the firewall.

Citizens in Iran have used Twitter to protest for certain rights to the country, including free speech. They have also uploaded video footage online to provide the world with an inside look as to what's going on inside their borders. In the video below, American news station FoxBusiness discussed in depth as to what led up to Google leaving China and announcing the closing of Google China. Chinese citizens want to be able to have Google available to them. My personal opinion is that it won't be long before Chinese citizens find a way to bypass China's firewall.

According to Amnesty International, there are about 64 people that have been arrested by the Chinese government for peacefully protesting online (Taylor). The government may impose harsh restrictions but soon there might be websites that can bypass the firewall. Citizens from other countries are already trying to bypass the government's rules. Burma engaged in pro-democracy protests and used cell phones to record video to share with the world. Citizen journalists began surreptitiously recording video and taking photos of the public beatings and abuses, transmitting them to the international press via mobile phone ("New Media and Development Communication"). In an Iranian Blog titled "Anonymous Iran, " unidentified writers discuss techniques to use digital devices such as cameras and phones to record violence and brutal killings within their country. 

As for YouTube Direct, this website won't be any different than YouTube in my opinion. How will this website help anyone, anyway? Posting videos on YouTube's main website and organizing the video into an Entertainment category, news, sports, and vice versa has always been done. This new YouTube Direct website won't make much of a difference, especially overseas unless this website can bypass government detection and firewalls. 

For the Chinese government, websites like Baidu will suffice temporarily and maybe for the long run since the Chinese citizens are under such a harsh strict government. Even with Westerns coaxing for a change, there might not be any lasting impact in the near future. 


As for Burma and Iran, maybe there will be change in the near future since cell phones, blogs, and Twitter are exposing harsh realities and living conditions of the citizens in those countries. The government can't keep the "genie in the bottle" because technology is everywhere. Some countries control their citizens as if they are puppets on a stage, but with technology this may not be possible for long. As more people enter cyberspace and contribute vital information, social and political change is within reach. Netizens of nondemocratic countries know this, and so do their harsh governments. As for who will become winners in this technological war , well that is something we shall see in years to come.


Works Cited:
Bellovin, Steven. "The New York Times." Can Google Beat China?. 15 01 2010. Web. 1 Feb 2010.

Google/China Flag picture: /22/100122161041_google_china_flag_ap_466.jpg

"Google and YouTube copies launch in China." 28 01 2010. Web. 1 Feb 2010.

Iranian Blog: 

Lee, Timothy. "The New York Times." Can Google Beat China?. 15 01 2010. Web. 1 Feb 2010.

"New Media and Development Communication." Web. 29 Jan 2010.  

Taylor, Richard. "Great Firewall of China." 06 01 2006. Web. 1 Feb 2010.

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