Open Thinkering


Beyond Creative Commons: uncopyright.

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Jonathan Lethem (via Harold Jarche):

Copyright is a “right” in no absolute sense; it is a government-granted monopoly on the use of creative results. So let’s try calling it that—not a right but a monopoly on use, a “usemonopoly”—and then consider how the rapacious expansion of monopoly rights has always been counter to the public interest…

Seth Godin:

So, how to protect your ideas in a world where ideas spread?


Instead, spread them. Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas, sometimes on demand. Or as someone who can manipulate or build on your ideas better than a copycat can. Or use your ideas to earn a permission asset so you can build a relationship with people who are interested. Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

Leo Babauta:

This blog is Uncopyrighted. Its author, Leo Babauta, has released all claims on copyright and has put all the content of this blog into the public domain.

No permission is needed to copy, distribute, or modify the content of this site. Credit is appreciated but not required.

Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution and Modification

0. Do whatever you like.


Be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi)


I’m here to change things. Do what you like with my stuff. It would be nice if you referenced where you get your ideas/resources from, but no longer necessary. From now on, my stuff is uncopyrighted.

CC BY laihiu

15 thoughts on “Beyond Creative Commons: uncopyright.

    1. How would I have dealt with a similar situation, Mark? Laughed, probably… :-D

      In all honesty, it’s happened to me before and I followed the same situation to you. I probably would draw the line if (again, as has happened before) my work – and name – is put next to some hardcore pornographic imagery.

      The thing about letting go is that I no longer see my work on this as being in a commercial marketplace and therefore having cash value. Go and read the excellent article by Jonathan Lethem (mentioned above) about the ‘gift economy’. :-)

  1. Good point, well made Doug, as you know from various conferences there is very, very rarely an original idea seen, what we have, and I feel the SHP conference is so good at this, is people sharing an idea, and then the idea grows, but we take time to recognise how collaboration has helped the idea grow and develop, after all, that is what professional journals are all about, thus you have simple put forward the idea that we should act professionally.

    1. If ‘act professionally’ is what you want to take away from this article – fine!

      What I’m *actually* saying is that I see myself as an ideas starter, as an instigator. There’s no point in trying to ‘own’ these ideas. I’m just putting them out there. :-)

  2. I think releasing all rights leaves you wide open to abuse. If people take your work and use it to misrepresent you, or what you stand for, what comeback do you have (unless it is outright libellous)? To have copyright is not the same as exercising copyright for cash reward.

    1. Neil, I respect you and your opinion, but I’m attempting to remove myself from one economy (‘everything has a cash value’) and promote another (‘ideas cannot be owned’).

      As you say, if someone takes what I’ve written and deliberately misrepresents *me*, I’ve got legal comeback. If they just rip off my ideas and don’t credit me, I don’t actually care… :-)

  3. From the point of view of being a teacher, Doug & working with students in secondary school – how would you work with students in terms of referencing? Would you expect them to reference (unless the site had an uncopyright statement as you have?)
    I’ve just been reading the research report into Student Perceptions of Referencing ( ) – and, though many see it as a bind & time consuming etc., quite a few also said that they felt that they weren’t required to do it at school at the same level as they have to at University.

    So, what would you recommend students to do: In general? Those who want to use your material?

    1. I have seen ICT students doing the current Diploma e-mail sites asking for permission to use information, I am not sure about the replies, I think the information gets used anyway, regardless of any reply or lack of it (me being cynical).
      I would expect all students to reference their work properly (for example ‘google’ is insufficient), it is just about setting a standard of behaviour, if you are passing on someone elses information you say where you saw it, and give a proper reference so others can go to the original.
      This is I know an ideal, as I have seen some academic fail to do this in books, I will name and shame Anna Porter here, an American Academic who tends to just give the book and author she quotes from.

    2. That’s kind if their (and the university’s) problem, Emma. The
      interesting question would be what would happen if a plagiarism
      detector flagged up that they’d copied-and-pasted from this site.

      What then?
      Not. My. Problem. :-)

  4. I really like this idea Doug -throwing your ideas out there & allowing people to do what they like with them is likely to lead to your ideas being used more often (& most likely being credited), therefore your ideas and reputation become more widespread, as does the philosophy behind it – didn’t they do this in the 1970’s with free love?!

    1. An interesting idea, James, but:

      “Use this universal tool if you are a holder of copyright or database rights, and you wish to waive all your interests in your work.”

      I don’t think this applies to me?

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