Linux, Open Source & Unrelated Topics by Paul Barker

Content Licensing

Tags: open-source, open-culture, writing, photography

At the start of 2023 I had a bit of a re-think on how I should license the writing and photographs which I publish to the internet.

There are well established benefits for allowing free commercial use of free and open source software. But I don't see that the same benefits exist for allowing free commercial re-use of stories, articles, photos, music, painting, etc. These things typically have one primary author or group of authors and it's rare to get significant free contributions (or even want significant contributions) from companies that want to use your work.

In open source software, we have a mixed history of companies exploiting the commons and companies contributing back to the commons. For more "artistic" works, the history seems to be exclusively of companies exploiting the commons.

For these reasons, I'm now allowing only non-commercial use of my photography and writing by default. In particular, I'm using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC-BY-NC 4.0) license.

I'm open to selling commercial re-use licenses for my photos and articles if any company does express interest. I'm also open to contributing content to existing projects under other licenses which do allow commercial use where there is a clear benefit to the commons.

For software projects, I'll continue to use and recommend open source licenses. My preference is for the Apache 2.0 license for source code and the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0) license for documentation.