I was hoping to time this better with other bloggers in a more broad announcement, but it looks like the idea is already out of the bag (see (Leo from Zen Habits, who jumped the gun). That’s okay, it’s the idea here that matters.
I hereby release all copyright on all written (non-comment) material on The Simple Dollar to the public domain.
What does that mean? If you want to reuse an article from The Simple Dollar in your newspaper, newsletter, or anything else, go right ahead. If you want to hand it out in your Consumer Ed class, print it out. If you want to edit it to suit your own needs, go right ahead. All written material on this site is now in the public domain.
Obviously, if you do use it, I’d appreciate some attribution (Trent Hamm) and a link back to The Simple Dollar (http://www.thesimpledollar.com/).
Why? Over the last few months, I’ve been reflecting a ton on The Simple Dollar, why I write it, and what I want to do with it. The more I considered it, I really began to realize that the whole reason I write The Simple Dollar is for you, the reader. That’s it.
I write so that someone out there who’s desperately scared about their debt situation might find an answer that they need, or the right piece of help at the right time. I write so that people who are in good financial shape have a place to bounce ideas off of each other, often taking what I write in an unexpected direction. I write so that maybe, just maybe, I can help the average person out there make a better decision or two about their money and then sleep better at night because of it.
By releasing all of the written content into the public domain, I have a far better chance of actually reaching people than I ever would keeping that content here and restricting the rights of people who want to share it. Maybe an article from this site will now show up in a community newspaper, where someone without internet access, down on their luck, will read it and get inspired to make a change in their life. Maybe something will show up in another web forum somewhere.
What about… There are obviously some downsides to this decision.
Losing revenue? Making money is very, very nice, but it’s not my biggest goal. If it were, I wouldn’t have abandoned most of my advertising a while back. Obviously, I greatly appreciate donations, but they’re not the end-all. I’d much rather have something I say reach the people who need it.
Fewer Google searchers coming to visit? If my information is out there in more place, more people will read it, not less.
Control over your work? If someone more talented than me can come along and spin my words into something great, go for it! If someone less talented than me takes my work and butchers it … well, then, they probably won’t build much of an audience anyway. If someone merely republishes it without attribution, at least the readers will get something of value out of the content.
As for the other issues I’ve thought of, they’re all so minor that they don’t even merit a notice compared to the value of helping people when they need it.
So, in summary, I release all written content on The Simple Dollar to the public domain. You can use and alter it in any way you choose without attribution or notice. Attribution to Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar, along with the site’s URL, is appreciated, however.
Edit: Please note that this does not include reader comments. It only pertains to the articles themselves.