Lisa Dempster, an Independent Author, on Why She Uses Creative Commons

Lisa Dempster shares why she chose to license her book ‘Neon Pilgrim’ under a Creative Commons license.


My book Neon Pilgrim was published under a Creative Commons (CC) licence, rather than a more traditional ‘all rights reserved’ mode of copyright. This did not mean I gave up copyright, rather, that I am offering some rights on my book to any taker, but only under certain conditions.

As a writer I am interested in the exchange of ideas and being a part of a creative community. If someone wants to use my work as an example, provide feedback, critique it or praise it with wild abandon then of course I want to make that as easy as possible for them. Ditto for people who want to create something inspired by my work, to remix it.

It’s no secret that independent publishing does not pay the big bucks, and I am primarily driven to write because I want to be read and because I want people to engage with my ideas and experiences.

Neon Pilgrim is not published online, though if anyone cares to scan it or type it out then under the conditions of the licence they would be welcome to do so. This includes me (though, obviously, without the typing)! Under an ‘all rights reserved’ licence I would need to seek permission from my publisher if I wanted to (for example) make the entire book available as a free download on my blog. Under the conditions of the CC licence I don’t need to ask aduki’s permission to publish online as long as I don’t benefit financially from it – that it is offered for free. Thus, being CC licensed also gives me a bit more freedom in my publishing contract than a traditional licensing, which many publishers like to keep firm control of. This makes sense to me as a creator, and the ideals of freedom of information and respecting author rights makes sense to aduki as a publisher.

With the emergence of web 2.0 culture, sharing and exchanging work is becoming increasingly common, and old modes of copyright increasingly redundant. In many ways this upsurge of social networking and self publishing platforms is upsetting existing, traditional publishing paradigms, and there has been a lot of debate around how publisher-author relationships will look in the future. Although it may turn out to have little practical application in the case of Neon Pilgrim (less than, say, a blog post or free online copy which can be cut, pasted and shared instantly), asserting a CC licence is one way for me to make a statement about author rights, creative content development and what I think the future of publishing should look like. Given the new ways that we communicate, publish and use technology, Creative Commons licensing simply makes sense.

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