Creative License

An odd thought crossed my mind earlier today while testing some new functionality on the 10C platform involving content licensing. When I write code that is not being paid for by an employer, everything I create is under an MIT license. This means that people can take that code and do anything they'd like with it. Use it. Abuse it. Mock it. Knock it. Anything is permissible. Want to sell the code for your own gain? Technically that's acceptable, too. Just don't expect a warranty or the ability to pass any liability onto me, because that's outside the scope of the license. Other forms of creativity, however, are under a strict CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. In plain English, this means that you can copy, distribute, and adapt the things I share so long as there is appropriate credit given, the license of any adaptation is the same, and there is no commercial element involved1. This means that I am more controlling of my blog posts, podcasts2, photos, and social posts than of the only thing of value that I've been able to sell to the world.

The realisation struck me as peculiar given how freely I am willing to share things that actually have value. Why don't I write blog posts under a CC0 license, which is like the MIT license in that it means anything created is immediately in the public domain, owned by nobody, for anyone to do anything with. Heck, when it comes to control of the content I publish on here, I went so far as to build tools to actively watch out for and block content scrapers.

Putting a bit of thought into the conundrum, I came to the conclusion that I'm willing to share code for the following reasons:

  • there is nothing so special about what I code that others couldn't figure it out on their own
  • I learned a lot by reading other people's code, so this is akin to returning the favour for the next generation of developers

The reason I'm not willing to share my other forms of creation is as follows:

  • many of the things I write or share reveal elements of who I am

So coding is perceived as being generic enough to share. Writing, podcasting, photographing, and baking is specific enough to tie it to me as an individual.

But is this right? Something seems to be missing from the equation. There's a great deal of character to be gleaned from reading the source code for any project I've ever worked on just as there can be a lack of personality from a blog or social post that states a generally accepted fact without context or obvious purpose.

This is an idea that I'll need to invest a bit more time thinking through. In the meantime, feel free to peek through the source code for 10Centuries.

  1. There is also the stipulation that there be no legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything with my content that the BY-NC-SA 4.0 license permits. So wrapping up all of my blog posts into a digital book for sale on Amazon with DRM is a no-no.

  2. There haven't been any of these in quite a while. I should really dust off the mic and put something out.