As the amount of digital content being created continues to grow – blog posts, movies, graphic arts, poetry, music and more – protecting the rights of the content creator is an increasingly important topic. Do you mind if people take the song you created and mix it? Does it matter if someone takes your blog post and puts it on their website? Some people believe anything online is free and fair game to use as they please. But for most people that are creating original digital works, they want some sort of protection or rights.
Here in Qatar there doesn’t really seem to be any laws or regulations that protect a digital content creator’s rights. There are certainly some copyright laws, but do they apply online? The answer is vague at best. Let me propose a possible solution – Qatar can support and adopt the Creative Commons licenses.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that is committed to increasing the amount of creativity in the “commons” or the public realm. They provide free, easy and standardized tools (licenses) for everyone – whether individual creators or large companies – to grant copyright permissions to the creative work. These licenses were created because of the internet and the emergence of “free” content and provide a legal framework for content creators to either reserve all rights, some rights or, if they choose, no rights. Already a lot of big-name organizations are using the licenses, including Al Jazeera, Google, Flickr and the White House.
Essentially a content creator determines how people can use their work and how it should be attributed to them. The creator can allow their work to be shared with attribution in an unaltered format, shared and altered with attribution (such as mixing of music), freely shared with attribution for non-commercial purposes, or even just freely used in anyway someone wants without attribution.
So here’s how the licensing works. You, as a content creator, visit the Creative Commons website and go to the “License” section. You then answer questions using a free tool about your content and how you would like others to be able to use it. Once you complete this short review, the tool lets you know the appropriate license for your work and gives you easy instructions on how to link the license to your material. Simple! And the great thing is this license has legal standing in more than 50 countries around the world, with an additional nine working on “porting” the licenses to be aligned with their copyright legislations. No, Qatar is not one of these countries, but numerous Arab countries are in the process of supporting Creative Commons (Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Syria), so why shouldn’t Qatar join in?
And while you can still use the Creative Commons licenses now to provide a certain level or protection to your digital content, if Qatar adopts the Creative Commons licensing standards, you would have a much higher sense of security here when sharing your creative works. No, Creative Commons will not completely stop unauthorized use of content, but it certainly helps and has rapidly-growing international recognition.
Hmmm… I wonder if there might be a government body that could get Qatar onboard?