Open Content Generates Attribution
When people develop great content, often their first impulse is create copyright restrictions, in order to prevent others from using or modifying the content. There are certainly times when you need to employ a restrictive license on your work. For example, Google wouldn’t want to open its search algorithm to the public, as that would be the downfall of its business. However, in plenty of situations, large and small organizations alike can reap significant findability benefits by adopting a more open license that allows others to use and modify the content.
Creative Commons offers a free, legal means of simultaneously protecting and sharing content of all sorts. Rather than completely blocking usage and publication rights, a Creative Commons license outlines the ways in which people can share or remix your content into something new.
One popular Creative Commons license prevents commercial gain from your content while allowing users to remix it (as long as they provide attribution to you), and allows others to make further modifications under the same stipulations. When users create derivations of your works under this license, they’re required to identify you and your site as the source of the original version. Their attribution is likely to create new inbound links to your site and generate more traffic for you.
Users’ improvements to your content also can allow your ideas to become bigger than you might have been able to make them. Your good karma of sharing the original idea and letting it grow in a community will not go unnoticed. Open licensing can bolster your site’s reputation in ways that would have been impossible if you had opted for a closed approach.
Olav Bjørkøy’s Blueprint CSS framework is distributed under an open source MIT license that allows others to improve upon what he’s created. The openness of the project actually helped contribute to the excitement surrounding it and the quality of the initial release, which incorporates other designers’ ideas as well.
The good karma of sharing your ideas and keeping them open can bolster the findability of your site. Good ideas tend to generate buzz and support, both of which can lead to an increase in traffic on your site.