Authors on Medium have always owned the rights to the original content they publish here. However, some have argued persuasively for the ability to choose a license for their work other than All rights reserved.
It may seem esoteric, but there is significant value in this. We want Medium to be the home for everyone’s stories and ideas and it is the sharing of stories and ideas that makes them powerful. Ideas are most useful when they’re built upon and combined with others. Stories gain new life when they’re remixed, reinterpreted, and retold. We want to facilitate that on Medium.
Today, in conjunction with Creative Commons, we’re happy to announce support for explicit post licensing on Medium.
As Lawrence Lessig explains, the early web was characterised by a network of independent creators drawing inspiration from each others’ work. We are proud to play a part in this creative, collaborative tradition.
To demonstrate the value of the commons as a source of artistic expression and inspiration, we asked our Creative Services Team here at Medium to remix and make use of CC-licensed and public domain works.
- Matthew Lew put together a beautiful visual treatment of Lockdown, a piece — appropriately enough — about DRM and copyright, originally published in 2012 by Cory Doctorow.
- Our photo-journalism publication, Vantage, took images of insects put into the public domain by The University of Texas using the CC0 copyright waiver to create Unleashing the swarm.
- Marcin Wichary posted George Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English language, which is in the public domain.
Ready to license your work?
The selection of your story’s license is done from the publish dropdown. If you are happy with the default option, All rights reserved, you don’t need to do anything else. Otherwise, click License to open the licensing dialog.
From the top section, choose the class and then the specific type of license you want. The bottom section explains what rights you are granting to others for your selected license.
To complete the change, click Save. Of course, if you change your mind, you can click Cancel.
Licenses can be updated after publication if necessary.
What licensing options do I have?
As well as All rights reserved, which is the default, we have the full suite of Creative Commons licenses, CC0, and a public domain mark for existing works in the public domain. To learn more about these licenses, see our explanatory post.
Do I have to do anything to ensure I retain the rights to my existing stories?
No. Any story previously published on Medium will remain licensed as All rights reserved by you, the author, until you explicitly change the license of your story.
How do I change the license of an existing story?
Go to your story, and click Edit, then Publish. Choose the license you want, then click Save. There is no need to republish the post — the updated license takes effect immediately.
What happens if I change the license of a published post from a Creative Commons license to “All rights reserved”?
Your story will be updated to reflect that all rights are reserved. However, CC licenses are not revocable. From the Creative Commons FAQ:
Once something has been published under a CC license, licensees may continue using it according to the license terms for the duration of applicable copyright and similar rights. As a licensor, you may stop distributing under the CC license at any time, but anyone who has access to a copy of the material may continue to redistribute it under the CC license terms.
You should consider carefully before you publish a story under a Creative Commons license.
How do I know what license a story is published under?
The story’s license will be displayed in the footer of the story, next to the publication date. Clicking on the link will take you to a human-readable explanation of the license.
Can I license my work with a Creative Commons license if I use an image that is licensed differently?
Yes! You should always explicitly state the license of embedded images or other media. For images, you can use a caption. The language in the footer makes it clear that the license you choose for your work only pertains to the content not explicitly covered by a different license.
I have more questions!
Fantastic! Let us know at email@example.com.