Please, be aware that all the information here provided is not professional advice —not even advice—, it is just my opinion on the subject as a result of interpreting several discussions. Treat it in accordance.
The primary purpose of a copyright license is not to “protect” the work of the author, but limit the freedoms users or consumers have on it. If you write a novel and allow only one copy of it to be sold, then the license is not protecting the work, but almost condemning it to extinction. On the other hand, if you allow all the freedoms to people on your work, it may never disappear as they will always have the right to make copies and redistribute them. That way you would be protecting your work.
Nevertheless, limiting the freedom of the users to some extent is not an intrinsically bad practice. Take for example the case when you have expressed your opinion on a blog post, and then comes another person, paraphrase your work, and in the process changes your message un- or intentionally. That’s not ideal, and in this case it would be helpful to limit the freedom of users when sharing your texts: they would be allowed to share it, but citing it as it is, without any changes.
The problem here arise when big corporations use copyright to remove all freedoms from the people, in their intrinsic ever-growing nature. Today, sharing your copy of a purchased music album with a neighbor is considered piracy, meaning that it is being compared with the assault of a ship, killing people, and thieving their possessions… but that is another topic, outside this post’s boundaries.
The selection of the license to your work must be carefully made in order to only limit the strictly necessary freedoms to users. This bring us to the point that there must exist different licenses to different kind of works.
Generally, for works like blogs, books, essays, etc., you may find the Creative
Commons set of licenses very helpful, just click on the
Share your work
section, and you will be redirected to a
chooser which helps you in the selection process. Also the Opinion
Licenses section on the Free Software
Foundation page could be helpful. These are works which need to be shared, but may
benefit from the original integrity.
Works related to software development might benefit from the GNU GPLv3, or any other similar one, as long as it grants the users and community freedoms.
For further reading on the subject, here some other resources which may be of help:
- FSF’s How to Choose a License for Your Own Work guide.
- Richard Stallman’s speech at MIT on April 19, 2021: Copyright and Globalization in the Age of Computer Networks
How to license your work?
This is an important step in the process, because it would not be useful to pick a license and not applying it. People may abuse your work in these cases in plenty of different ways.
To license your work, it is enough to mark it with a visible bit of text specifying the license you choose. It is always recommended to provide a link to the license.
Take into account that I have extracted this information from Creative Commons, and maybe that is not the case for the license you choose.
How do I have licensed my own work in this blog?
To license my opinions and original writings in this blog I have chosen the following rules (see Legal Information)1: The user is free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, as long as he does not state authorship of the work, and the shared copy cannot be a modified one, as I would like my opinions remain unchanged ;-)
All software, code, or inline documentation published, on the other hand, can be modified and redistributed —commercially or not—, as long as it remains free ( as stated in the GNU GPLv3).
For any legal implication see directly the site’s Legal Information and the licenses, as the paraphrase here made by me may not be accurate. ↩︎