I often get questions about copyright, licensing, patents, and publishing an Instructable. In an effort to help clarify, we're going to put an overview of the license on the Instructable publish page. We'll also link to a forum topic where users can ask questions and discuss edge cases. I'd love your feedback, suggestions, and question on the proposed text that will appear on the publish page where you choose a license:
Here's a brief overview of how the license works:
By publishing your Instructable, you give Instructables.com permission to republish your Instructable on our website, or on a partner's website or other media. We always try to get your Instructable seen by as many people as possible, and usually our goal is the same as yours. For more information, see our Terms of Service.
The license you choose below informs third-parties how they must treat your Instructable. If you choose our default license, Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa), any website may republish your entire Instructable in a non-commercial venue under the same license, provided they attribute it properly -- by citing your name, linking to your website, your userpage on Instructables, or the original Instructable. If you choose to reserve all rights, no entity other than Instructables.com may republish your exact text or images. If you choose Public Domain, you are explicitly abandoning all rights. For the purposes of news reporting, pieces of your Instructable may be republished regardless of their copyright under the fair use exemption. More information can be found on the Creative Common website.
The ideas or methods described within your Instructables are not protected by copyright. Copyright only applies to original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form of expression; for the purposes of your Instructable, that includes your text, images, and any files. If you'd like to protect the idea or method of your Instructable, you'll need a patent. Patent law is more complicated than we have space for here, but the good news is that in the United States, you have a year from first publication to file a patent application. So, if you think your idea is patentable, you can publish a form of it as an Instructable, get constructive feedback on the idea, and still be able to apply for a patent.