The benefits of harnessing Creative Commons-licensed work in your content creation process

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Photo courtesy of John Fowler via Flickr

As the new year begins, many professional communicators are hard at work planning upcoming campaigns and content. The underlying concepts behind these campaigns may already be well refined, but visualizing them is often a challenge.

Which raises the question: How to avoid another year of boring stock images and graphics?

For the past two or three years, more companies have begun using Creative Commons-licensed content in their public relations and marketing collateral. Creative Commons, a non-profit organization based in Mountain View, Calif., has defined six licenses which content creators can use to grant rights to reuse and/or remix their work.

One of the most commonly used licenses, the Attribution License, allows anyone to repurpose or modify the work that carries it, even for commercial purposes. Those who redistribute content under an Attribution License are expected to give credit to the creator. In the case of an image, credit is given in the caption and with a link back to the original page containing the image.

You can search more than 30 million images carrying an Attribution License on Flickr. You can also find images by using the Commercial License and Modification filters within Google Advanced Image Search.

Creative Commons grew out of the early confusion around intellectual property rights on the Web as a way for those who create text, images, video and other works to allow others to redistribute their creations without fear of copyright infringement. Content creators who license their output under Creative Commons often do so to drive exposure for what they’ve published.

Besides generally being more visually interesting and timely than stock images–or even, dare I say it, clip art–using Creative Commons-licensed material, appropriately attributed, can help a company take part in creative online communities. You can also license your own work for use by others. Besides using it here on the blog, I also use it in presentations at industry conferences. The best images sometimes serve as conversation starters.




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