I read an interesting post on Doug Belshaw's blog this morning about how he has decided to "uncopyright" everything on it, leaving it up to the "consumer" as to whether they linked back or gave any credit to Doug in derivative works. This got me thinking about Creative Commons, of which I have always been a big fan. Everything on this blog has a Creative Commons license for re-use and remixing, all I require is an accreditation in the subsequent work. Doug's post, however got me questioning this as a valid strategy: is it arrogance to suggest that any of the musings/doggerel/resources that I post on here are worth protecting? Probably. Are not virtually all of my own ideas derivative of someone else's thinking? Most certainly.
On the other hand, by uncopyrighting everything it gives a degree of legitimacy to those wanting to pass off other folk's content as their own. A couple of years ago someone notified me of a blog that was just lifting my posts and pasting them into their own site without accreditation, and I have to admit I was pretty annoyed about it, going so far as to send the author a fairly robust email (which worked and they took my stuff off). How would you feel if material that you had created found its way onto unsavoury websites, or used by a political party whose views did not coincide with yours (e.g. the use of publicly licensed images of Winston Churchill and Spitfires by the BNP)?
Finally, Doug is in the enviable position of having someone pay his salary (he is an e-learning director of an academy in Northumberland) and therefore his motivation seems to be to share his thinking for others to take in any direction they want (I hope that's a reasonable summary of his position). I'm not, and I have to make a living by my own means. It seems reasonable, therefore to think that some sort of protection is needed. However, if one of my aims is to spread my reputation as far and wide as possible as someone who might make a difference to ICT in a school, would it not be better to uncopyright everything and rely on the ethical stance of most educational bloggers to link back and credit where credit's due?
What are the implications for work created on school blogs by children? Is uncopyrighting a step too far for this type of environment?
Ultimately, the kind of people who are happy to pass other people's work off as their own don't give two hoots about copyright, Creative Commons or any other type of intellectual property rights, so does it really make a difference? Maybe copyright is for the rich who can afford a lawyer?
Should I uncopyright? Still thinking about it...