Collections vs Remixes

Combining CC-licensed resources is pretty straight forward, I think. You are simply putting them together, like filling up your basket at the supermarket when you do your shopping; you go through the aisles, pick what you need and when you get to the till, what you have is a collection of products: each of them different from the other, some fresh, some vacuum-packed, with their own ‘best before’ date and so on. Likewise, in a collection of CC resources, you assemble different materials, each with its own license information and attribution, which you must provide always.

If you were to share this collection and apply a CC license to it, what would you have to bear in mind? You only own the copyright to your own contribution (i.e. how you put the material in a certain order, what text you added, etc.); you can include ND works; you don’t have to license your collection under SA if you included SA works; but, if you reused a NC resource, your collection will have to comply with NC conditions too.

Robin DeRosa’s The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature is a great example of a collection, but let me give you one of my own, since that’s what this assignment requires:

Since I’m feeling a bit homesick, I decided to put together a collection of photos of Vigo, my hometown in Galicia. The four images represent four different aspects: Vigo is a port city; it’s not exactly an arty place, but the landscape of urban sculptures you’ll see on a walk is phenomenal; the mayor claims that the city’s Christmas lights easily outdo New York’s, and our football team, Celta de Vigo, breaks my heart every Sunday (most likely).

As you can see from the attribution, each of these photographs is used under a different CC license or is available under CC0. I have not changed anything, I have simply combined them, and added a couple of words to highlight what each image represents in my eyes. The photos are not mine to license, but I can choose a license for my collection. I would normally share anything I create under CC BY, but because in this case I’m using one photo that is NC, my collection has to be NC too.

What would have happened if, instead of combining these images, I had remixed them i.e. changed them to create something entirely new? A remix involves adaptation (and remember that what counts as adaptation is not easily defined and varies according to copyright law). If I go back to my analogy of earlier, once I got home with all the ingredients in my shopping basket and cooked a lovely paella, for example, I would have created a remix; all ingredients would have surrendered their individuality as elements of a collection to create a delicious dish.

Now, in the same way if your blood type is A+ you can’t donate to a O-, CC licenses are not always compatible. Let’s see, if your intention is to publicly share your adaptations, then you should never choose a NonDerivative work as your starting point, or if you’d like your remix to be available for commercial use, then adapting NonCommercial resources is not allowed. If ever in doubt which license goes with which, I find this chart on CC FAQs website extremely helpful.

Lastly, knowing that I still only own the copyright to my contributions, and that I need to attribute and abide by the conditions of the original work, I can choose a license for my remix as adapter, with the help of the Adapter’s License Chart and one basic premise: “You can determine which license to use for your adaptation by choosing the more restrictive of the two licenses on the works you are combining”.

Creative Commons Adapter’s License Chart, CC BY 4.0

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