Legal FAQ

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What is this funny CreativeCommons licensing business?

Original works of authorship (like the stuff you compose and post to your blog) may be protected by copyright law. Technically, this means that you own the rights to copy, distribute, display, and perform your work. However, we also encourage you to share your work under the terms of one of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This license permits others to copy and display your work, as long as they give you credit. It also allows others to compose derivative works new – works that incorporate some or all of your work. Moreover, if they create a derivative work, they have to distribute that work under the same license.

Why is this Attribution-ShareAlike license a good thing?

It’s good because it allows other people to more easily share and build on your work. Furthermore, if they create new material based on your original, the new works must carry the same license, meaning that those new works can be used by you, and others, for further creative efforts. It spares others from having to track you down at some distant time, negotiate for permissions, get a license in writing, etc. The license acts sort of like a virus, but a good one that enables greater public benefit by reducing complex barriers.

What if I don’t like to share?

That’s your right, and you’re free to post your work with a more restrictive license.

It looks like I’m giving the District all the rights to everything and anything I create?

You still own your rights. No matter what license you choose for your work, the District needs to be able to copy, transmit, and display your work in order to effectively administer and run the Technology Services, otherwise the District cannot transmit that information over the Internet. So you are giving the District some non-exclusive permissions, but you still retain ownership of your copyrights. If you don’t want to share content, then you probably shouldn’t be creating content on the District provided Technology Services.

What does indemnify mean?

In this context, in plain English, it means that if someone sues the District for content that you posted, you’re on the hook for the damages. In other words, you’re responsible for the consequences, if any, of your own (possibly) poor judgment.

What if I want to use a quote from a book or other source in my content?

Typically, small amounts of copying are covered by the fair use doctrine, which carves out exceptions to normal copyright law, for purposes such as criticism, comment or parody. The classic example is quoting a short passage for purposes of writing a book review. However, remember that if you overstep the bounds of fair use and violate someone’s copyright (e.g. posting a complete news article as your own, as a really egregious example), you will be liable for the possible legal ramifications of your actions. You assume all of the legal risks associated with posting content without the express permission of the author.