Copyright Terms in Online Creative Communities

Casey Fiesler
Georgia Institute of Technology
Amy Bruckman
Georgia Institute of Technology


A key usability problem for websites is the complexity of their terms and conditions. Within the HCI community, attention to this issue to date has primarily focused on privacy policies. We begin to build on this work, extending it to copyright terms. With so many people posting everything from status updates to digital art online, intellectual property rights are increasingly important to the end user. We conducted a content analysis of 30 different websites where users can share creative work, focusing on the licenses and usage rights that users grant to those websites. Due to difficult readability, legalese, and a lack of plain language explanations, it is likely that users may not know what rights they are granting. Next steps include a user survey to determine whether this is the case, and further exploration of the impact on usability.

Infographic - What Are You Giving Away- 1.5