The "digital age" and the internet have reformed the way copyright is seen by the general population. While initially it was a tool to protect the author and publishers of the written word, with the advancement of technology it soon became a force blocking creativity and freedom. While initially copyright protected works for a reasonably brief period of time, it ended being extended to ridiculous proportions, way beyond the lifespan of it's authors.
Today's global digital communications, computers and the internet allow us to instantly and simultaneously share ideas and works in a way that was not dreamt over one century ago. And in this digital age, traditional copyright doesn't even make sense, as the act of copy is part of the process of communication. In the digital world, in order to read a book, listen to a song or see a video, you need to create a copy on your computer.
Think about it: when you look at a copyright protected photo on your computer, your browser have already downloaded a copy, something copyright prevents you to do. So, when you upload a photo to ipernity and place it under copyright, how can someone see it without breaking traditional copyright protection? Remember: copyright prevents copy.
If on the other hand your intention is to prevent unauthorized redistribution of your work, you need to extend copyright by allowing a certain type of copy, something not covered by traditional copyright. After all, copyright means all rights reserved. This is where Creative Commons enters and upgrades copyright to the 21st century.
By using a creative commons license you keep some right reserved while allowing normal and lawful use of your work over digital networks. The fundamental aspects of copyright are carried over to creative commons: authorship remains with the original author through the Attribution clause, work integrity is warranted by the No Derivatives clause and economical retribution is retained by the Non Commercial clause.
What's more important, the right to reuse the work is explicitly granted by creative commons. You can freely download the work for any personal use, you can redistribute it and, if the author explicitly allows, you can even modify it and use it as source or part of your own creative work, as long as you credit the original author.
Now, if you're still with me, let me share with you why I felt the urge to write about this subject. While looking through my contacts' beautiful images, I was pointed to a serious instance of copyright violation, in this case, plagiarism. Of course a creative commons license wouldn't prevent this from happening, a bad apple is a bad apple.
As the offending account seems to have been terminated, I can't judge on the motive behind the plagiarist but I've often seen cases where people so much love the work of others that they collect and share it. It's quite common for fans of musical groups to do this and the motive is frequently to share something you love, not steal it. The problem with copyright is you're not allowed to share or redistribute, even when you rightfully credit the author. I'm convinced that a larger awareness of creative commons would help to reduce the cases of unlawful copyright violation and give creators and consumers a lot more options.