Plagiarism Today is No Longer Creative Commons

Creative_Commons_Wanna_Work_Together__on_VimeoThis is the first post in Plagiarism Today history to not be available under a Creative Commons License.

Last month, I announced that I had intended to back away from Creative Commons and would be making the change shortly. Today I made the change.

The reasons, as I outlined in my earlier post, are that spammers and scrapers have begun to latch on to Creative Commons as a way of filling their junk sites. Meanwhile, those wanting to legitimately reuse the content still feel compelled to ask, even though there is no need.

In short, it’s become clear that Creative Commons was starting to put Plagiarism Today at risk, especially when one looks at “unnatural linking” issues, while doing nothing to save me time or energy handling permission requests.

So the decision was made to separate from Creative Commons and, earlier today, I removed the license from the site entirely.

How it Works Now

To handle permissions moving forward, I’ve created a simple Reuse & Permissions From. It’s straightforward 7-question form that more or less just asks who you are and what you want to reuse. Not much else. My intent is to still follow the terms of the CC-BY-SA license that we had used for over a decade, but do so through the form and permission system rather than have it automatically apply.

The link to the permissions page has been added to the menu bar above under the “About” heading and as a link appended to the end of each post.

To be clear, if you have used any previous work from Plagiarism Today under the Creative Commons License, there is no need to ask for permission. That license is still valid for your use and, even if I wanted to revoke it, I can not. Please feel free to continue with your use.

If I decide to close Plagiarism Today or walk away from it, I plan on licensing the site back under the Creative Commons License before doing so. If something happens to me, I’m planning to make arrangements to have my content similarly licensed after my death. However, until either of those things happen, I have to focus on how to make a living off of the content I create and, unfortunately, Creative Commons is simply too big of a risk.

I have also placed every video in my YouTube channel under the Standard YouTube License. I am going to work out a separate permissions scheme for it with time. In the meantime though, feel free to email me if you have any questions regarding the videos.

All in all, I expect things to work pretty much the same as before since the vast majority wanting to use my work asked for permission regardless of the license. The only real difference is now that process is much more streamlined.

Bottom Line

This is a very bittersweet day for me. For over 13 years nearly everything I’ve published online has been under a Creative Commons License when possible. Plagiarism Today, my literature sites before then, my YouTube videos, even many of my Flickr images, were all open licensed.

Doing away with that is a bitter pill. I like the idea of Creative Commons and I’m drawn to the idea of symbiosis between creator and user. However, for this site and my work, it’s a bad deal.

That being said, I still think there are times where Creative Commons can be useful. If you want to license your music to YouTubers or your images to bloggers, it may still make sense. But Creative Commons is a blanket license and you can’t use Creative Commons and expect only one type of use.

So, if you are using Creative Commons, track and monitor how your work is being used. See the types of sites and people who are using your work and decide if it’s a good deal. For some creators it still works out, but for many, especially those creating text works, it probably doesn’t.

But, in the end, my story belies a larger issue: Spammers killed article marketing and they are starting to undermine Creative Commons. If the Creative Commons Organization doesn’t get ahead of this problem now, there will be a lot more creators like me who are frustrated with how their work is being used and abandoning the licenses altogether.

That doesn’t bode well for anyone, especially the Creative Commons Organization.

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