Since 2003, the Creative Commons movement has ridden a worldwide revolution in creativity and sharing, inspiring the authors of over 160 million copyrighted works to adopt a “some rights reserved” approach that encourages sharing, remix, and re-use of their works. CC licenses come in a variety of flavors, and in many jurisdictional variants, but at root, they are simple to use and apply, and they bring great benefit to “audiences” and “creators” (and help to blur the details between these two crude categories).
The piece also offers a concise overview of copyright law.
Through most of its four-hundred-odd-year history, copyright has only applied to a special class of works, generally those created with the intention of commercial exploitation. Many governments — especially the US government — only granted copyright to authors who registered with a national library, depositing copies of each copyrighted work in the country’s authoritative repository of important creative works. These libraries also served as central registries, making it easy to figure out whose permission you needed when you wanted to use a copyrighted work.
I recommend this article highly for anyone who is thinking of posting their works online.