Recently I received a question from a former student and friend that highlights the confusion concerning copyright law and the various types of Creative Commons licenses. I wrote about the Creative Commons license I choose to use in a previous post but I wanted to tackle this question in its own post as I think it is deserving. As her e-mail didn’t come with a CC license at the bottom I asked and received permission to reprint her question here:
Would you care if I used a monologue out of The Constellation Minuet? I saw it at LUTAF last year and remembered really liking it. Let me know if you’re not comfortable with it, I won’t use it. Just thought I would ask you first! ~Erin Hardy
I replied quickly with the following (in part):
As for using the work as a monologue: Yes you can. I’ve already given the okay in the license. (But thanks for asking/letting me know).
I use the cc-by-sa license which essentially says “please attribute my work to me, perform/remix/adapt it, and if you create something new with my art please do unto others as I have done unto you.” You can read the actual license here, but this confusion is a preventative force for the dissemination of my work on what is otherwise a great system (the internet) for exchange of content and ideas.
Let me be clear: I want you to use my work. Please use my work as an audition piece if you like it. Please include my work in your collection of short plays if you think it fits. Please print off 20 copies for your high school English class and analyse the language (and send me thoughts for what I might think about improving). Please e-mail my work to that person it reminded you of. Please create a scenic design for that play of mine you like (or lighting, or sound, or use it for a class, etc…). Please produce my work and take pictures and upload them somewhere (even a video).
I used to be confused about this license. I used to be cynical (Conan may help you see the light). I used to think that these licenses were merely traps. I used to think that these people offering something for “free” just wanted me to contact them with a link to how I used it in order to sue me (or some other nonsense). This isn’t a trap. I didn’t write these plays for them to sit in a drawer unused and unread forever: I wrote them to share them.
You don’t have to let me know if you’ve done, are doing, or will do my work. I would love to hear about it though. Send me an e-mail, post in the comments on the play’s page, or do something else that is wonderful. I’m honored that you’d think of using my work. Please do.