Legal FAQ

What is this funny CreativeCommons licensing business?

Original works of authorship (like the stuff you compose and post to
your blog) may be protected by copyright law. Technically, this means
that you own the rights to copy, distribute, display, and perform your
work. However, we also encourage you to share your work under the terms
of one of the CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This
license permits others to copy and display your work, as long as they
give you credit. It also allows others to compose derivative works new – works that incorporate some or all of your work. Moreover, if they
create a derivative work, they have to distribute that work under the
same license.

Why is this Attribution-ShareAlike license a good thing?

It’s good because it allows other people to more easily share and
build on your work. Furthermore, if they create new material based on
your original, the new works must carry the same license, meaning that
those new works can be used by you, and others, for further creative
efforts. It spares others from having to track you down at some distant
time, negotiate for permissions, get a license in writing, etc. The
license acts sort of like a virus, but a good one that enables greater
public benefit by reducing complex barriers.

What if I don’t like to share?

That’s your right, and you’re free to post your work with a more
restrictive license.

It looks like I’m giving the District all the rights to
everything and anything I post to my blog?

You still own your rights. No matter what license you choose for
your work, the District needs to be able to copy, transmit, and display
your work in order to effectively administer and run the blogging service,
otherwise the District cannot transmit that information over the
So you are giving the District some non-exclusive permissions, but you
still retain ownership of your copyrights. If you don’t want to share
content, then you probably shouldn’t be blogging on this site.

What does indemnify mean?

In this context, in plain English, it means that if someone sues
the District for content that you posted, you’re on the hook for the
damages. In other words, you’re responsible for the consequences, if
any, of your own (possibly) poor judgment.

What if I want to use a quote from a book or other source on my

Typically, small amounts of copying are covered by the fair use
doctrine, which carves out exceptions to normal copyright law, for
purposes such as criticism, comment or parody. The classic example is
quoting a short passage for purposes of writing a book review. However,
remember that if you overstep the bounds of fair use and violate
someone’s copyright (e.g. posting a complete news article as your own,
as a really egregious example), you will be liable for the possible legal
ramifications of your actions. You assume all of the legal risks
associated with posting content without the express permission of the

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