A Useful Online Guide for Content Creators

Columbia Law School's Program on Law & Technology, directed by law professor Tim Wu, recently launched another valuable online resource: Keep Your Copyrights: A Resource for Creators. It features an excellent guide that explains what rights you have as the creator of expressive content for a website, blog, or other medium and gives advice on how to manage those rights in a proactive way. The "about" page sums up the purpose of the guide as follows:

Today, too many creators take a passive attitude toward their copyrights. The matter seems complex, and publishers or distributors may tell you that everyone does it their way, or that giving up copyrights is standard practice. But giving up your rights under copyright is a decision, not a default option. If you stand passively by, you may over the course of a long creative career produce a large body of work, most of which is owned and controlled by other people, whose interests and yours may diverge. We encourage a more proactive attitude toward copyright management.

We encourage creators to understand that you start with all the rights, and that you should actively decide what you want to do with them. Your copyright in fact consists of multiple rights, and you can grant one right (or part of one right) without giving away the others. Copyright was designed to serve artists and creators, but if you give everything up, that idea can just become lip service. Worse, if you give away too many rights, the business to whom you gave up your rights can use your copyrights against you to hinder your later efforts to create or to get paid.

The site's most novel contribution may be the About Contracts section, which looks at excerpts from real contracts and rates the clauses for "creator-friendliness."

Check it out -- it's well worth a look.

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