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Don’t Slap a Copyright on Marketing Content You Want to be Shared; Do This Instead


This isn’t the post I intended to publish today.

I had plans to cover a survey – as I often do with attribution. But as I dug into the report, I noticed one small thing that gave me pause: a copyright mark.

I think I’d be more than covered under fair use in writing about the report. However, I also want to publish some of the graphics, which is a different thing. Sure, I can ask for permission – but it’s an extra step that requires time and slows me down.

There is an alternative available to me too: to write about something else. That company invested time and treasure to produce that report to build awareness. Yet a little copyright caused them to lose the exposure and a backlink.

This scenario happens too often, and it just doesn’t make sense. The chances of marketing content going viral are slim. Slimmer still for those saturated with copyright markings. Marketing and PR are hard enough without the addition of a self-imposed restriction.

There’s a better way.

I’ve long advised marketers to use a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons has several different licenses that can both meet your needs and clearly facilitate sharing.

You should of course run this past your legal team. I suggest working with them to create a self-service decision matrix that’s applicable to the typical marketing piece. It’s a free and easy step to literally ‘pull out all the stops.’

The images published below are based on an infographic by Foter that explains the concept graphically. I found it on the Creative Commons website. It is licensed, as you might have guessed, under creative commons: CC BY-SA.

Here’s an overview of the Creative Commons licenses (click image for higher resolution):

Here’s an overview of the permissions you grant with each license (click image for higher resolution):

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