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Creative Commons
Founder(s) Lawrence Lessig
Type Non-profit organization
Founded 2001
Location San Francisco, California
 United States
Key people Joi Ito
Focus Expansion of "reasonable", flexible copyright
Method Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.[1] The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy to understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons license. This simplicity distinguishes Creative Commons from an all-rights reserved copyright. Creative Commons was invented to create a more flexible copyright model, replacing "all rights reserved" with "some rights reserved". Penny's Poetry Pages is one of the web-based projects that use one of its licenses.

Creative Commons was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred[2] with support of the Center for the Public Domain. The first set of copyright licenses was released in December 2002.[3] In 2008, there were an estimated 130 million works licensed under Creative Commons.[4] Creative Commons is governed by a board of directors and a technical advisory board. Joi Ito is currently the chair of the board and Catherine Casserly is the CEO.[5] Creative Commons has been embraced by many as a way for content creators to take control of how they choose to share their intellectual property. There has also been criticism that it does not go far enough, or discourages regional cultural production.

Aim and influence[]

File:GoldenNica CreativeCommons.jpg

Golden Nica Award

File:Creative Commons Japan Seminar-200709-1.jpg

Creative Commons Japan Seminar, Tokyo 2007

Creative Commons has been described as being at the forefront of the copyleft movement, which seeks to support the building of a richer public domain by providing an alternative to the automatic "all rights reserved" copyright, dubbed "some rights reserved."[6] David Berry and Giles Moss have credited Creative Commons with generating interest in the issue of intellectual property and contributing to the re-thinking of the role of the "commons" in the "information age". Beyond that, Creative Commons has provided "institutional, practical and legal support for individuals and groups wishing to experiment and communicate with culture more freely."[7]

Creative Commons works to counter what the organization considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. According to Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, it is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past".[8] Lessig maintains that modern culture is dominated by traditional content distributors in order to maintain and strengthen their monopolies on cultural products such as popular music and popular cinema, and that Creative Commons can provide alternatives to these restrictions.[9][10]


The current CEO of Creative Commons is Catherine Casserly.[11] Mike Linksvayer is Vice President and Diane Peters is the General Counsel.


The current Creative Commons Board includes: Hal Abelson, Glenn Otis Brown, Michael W. Carroll, Catherine Casserly, Caterina Fake, Davis Guggenheim, Joi Ito (Chair), Lawrence Lessig, Laurie Racine, Eric Saltzman, Annette Thomas, Molly Suffer Van Houweling, Jimmy Wales, and Esther Wojcicki (Vice Chair).[5]

Technical Advisory Board[]

The Technical Advisory Board includes five members: Hal Abelson, Ben Adida, Barbara Fox, Don McGovern and Eric MillerTemplate:Disambiguation needed. Hal Abelson also serves on the Creative Commons Board.[5]

Audit Committee[]

Creative Commons also has an Audit Committee, with two members: Molly Shaffer Van Houweling and Lawrence Lessig. Both serve on the Creative Commons Board.[5]

Affiliate Network[]

In 2011, there are more than 100 affiliates working in over 70 jurisdictions to support and promote CC activities around the world.[12]

Creative Commons Asia-Pacific[]

South Korea[]

Creative Commons Korea (CC Korea) is the affiliated network of Creative Commons in South Korea. In March 2005, CC Korea was initiated by Jongsoo Yoon (in Korean: 윤종수), a Presiding Judge of Incheon District Court, as a project of Korea Association for Infomedia Law (KAFIL). The major Korean portal sites, including Daum and Naver, have been participating in the use of Creative Commons licences. In January 2009, the Creative Commons Korea Association was consequently founded as a non-profit incorporated association. Since then, CC Korea has been actively promoting the liberal and open culture of creation as well as leading the diffusion of Creative Commons in the country.

  • Creative Commons Korea[13]
  • Creative Commons Asia Conference 2010[14]

Creative Commons Europe[]

Scandinavia and the Nordic Countries[]


Creative Commons Sweden (CC Sweden)) is the affiliated network of Creative Commons in Sweden[15].

Supporters of Creative Commons[]

Corporate Support[]

Sustainer Level (Committed for 5 years)

  • The Beal Fund of Triangle Community Foundation, on behalf of
  • Google
  • Mozilla Foundation
  • Red Hat

Investor Level ($25,000 and up)

  • Best Buy
  • Digital Garage
  • Duke University
  • Ebay
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Nike

Types of Creative Commons licenses[]

File:Wanna Work Together? with subtitles - Creative Commons.ogv

Wanna Work Together? animation by Creative Commons

File:Mayer and Bettle 2 - Creative Commons.ogv

The second version of the Mayer and Bettle promotional animation explains what Creative Commons is.

Main article: Creative Commons licenses

There are six major licenses of the Creative Commons:[16]

  • Attribution (CC-BY)
  • Attribution Share Alike (CC-BY-SA)
  • Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
  • Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC)
  • Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)
  • Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)

There are four major conditions of the Creative Commons: Attribution (BY), requiring attribution to the original author; Share Alike (SA), allowing derivative works under the same or a similar license (later or jurisdiction version); Non-Commercial (NC), requiring the work is not used for commercial purposes; and No Derivative Works (ND), allowing only the original work, without derivatives.[16]

As of the current versions, all Creative Commons licenses allow the "core right" to redistribute a work for non-commercial purposes without modification. The NC and ND options will make a work non-free.

Additional options include the CC0 option, or "No Rights Reserved."[17] For software, Creative Commons endorses three free licenses created by other institutions: the BSD License, the CC GNU LGPL license, and the CC GNU GPL.[18][19]

Usage and list of projects that release contents under Creative Commons licenses[]

Template:Rewrite section Creative Commons maintains a content directory wiki of organizations and projects using Creative Commons licenses.[20] On its website CC also provides case studies of projects using CC licenses across the world.[21] CC licensed content can also be accessed through a number of content directories and search engines (see CC licensed content directories).

On January 13, 2009, some broadcasting content from Al Jazeera on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict was released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.[22][23][24][25][26][27]

  • Wikipedia (cc-by-sa, since June 2009)
  • Wikia (cc-by-sa, since June 2009)
  • Citizendium (cc-by-sa)
  • knol (mostly, cc-by-sa or cc-by-nc-sa)
  • Arduino (cc-by-sa)
  • NINJAM (cc-by-sa)

Jurisdiction ports[]

File:Creative Commons Intl Map.svg

Countries to which Creative Commons licenses have been ported (green) or are being ported (blue)

Main article: Creative Commons jurisdiction ports

The original non-localized Creative Commons licenses were written with the U.S. legal system in mind, so the wording could be incompatible within different local legislations and render the licenses unenforceable in various jurisdictions. To address this issue, Creative Commons has started to port the various licenses to accommodate local copyright and private law. As of May 2010, there are 52 jurisdiction-specific licenses, with 9 other jurisdictions in drafting process, and more countries joining the worldwide project.[28]


Template:Criticism section

General criticism[]

CC some rights reserved

Péter Benjamin Tóth asserts that Creative Commons' objectives are already well served by the current copyright regime, and that Creative Commons' "some rights reserved" slogan, as against Copyright's "all rights reserved", creates a false dichotomy. "Copyright provides a list of exclusive rights to the rightholder, from which he decides which ones he wishes to "sell" or grant and which to retain. The "Some rights reserved" concept is therefore not an alternative to, but rather the very nature of classical copyright."[29] Other critics fear that Creative Commons could erode the copyright system over time.[30]

Some of Creative Commons' critics support revision of the copyright act, but believe Creative Commons to be merely a contractual quick fix that dissuades the public from mobilizing toward a real revision of the Copyright Act and copyright term lengths.[30] Others, such as Jeffrey Harrison, believe the Creative Commons system to be too lax, and caution against "allowing some of our most precious resources—the creativity of individuals—to be simply tossed into the commons to be exploited by whomever has spare time and a magic marker."[31]

Other critics question whether Creative Commons licenses are truly useful for artists, suggesting that Creative Commons is directed mainly toward a "remix culture" that often fails to account for the real needs, such as financial compensation and recognition, of fine artists, especially in the visual arts world.[31] Some critics also worry that a system that does not allow authors to obtain a reward for their creations will cause some artists to avoid sharing their work.[32]

Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig counters that copyright laws have not always offered the strong and seemingly indefinite protection that today's law provides.[33] Rather, the duration of copyright used to be limited to much shorter terms of years, and some works never gained protection because they did not follow the now-abandoned compulsory format.[33]

Another critic questions whether Creative Commons can really be the commons that it purports to be, given that at least some restrictions apply to people's ability to use the resources within the common field.[32] This is restricted entirely within the private rights of others and has nothing to do with rights shared by all.[34] Creative Commons also does not define "creativity" or what aspects a work requires in order to become part of the commons.[32]

Critics such as David BerryTemplate:Disambiguation needed and Giles Moss also argue that the founding of Creative Commons is not the proper mechanism for creating a commons of original content.[34] Rather, a commons should be created, and its presence preserved, through the political process and political activism, not through lawyers writing down new rules.[34]

Many criticize that 4/6 of the Creative Commons licenses are not truly "open" because of the restrictions they place on reuse. With the definition of open being " “A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike."[35]

License proliferation and incompatibility[]

Critics have also argued that Creative Commons worsens license proliferation, by providing multiple licenses that are incompatible.[36] The Creative Commons website states, "Since each of the six CC licenses functions differently, resources placed under different licenses may not necessarily be combined with one another without violating the license terms."[37]Works licensed under incompatible licenses may not be recombined in a derivative work without obtaining permission from the license-holder.[38][39][40] Some worry that "without a common legal framework, works which inadvertently mix licenses may become unshareable."[41]

License misuse[]

Due to the nature of Creative Commons and the absence of a central data-base, it is possible that legitimate copyright holders could be exploited by abusive internet users that erroneously brand their copyrighted works with Creative Commons licenses and re-upload these works to the internet. Creative Commons encourages a broad participation of users, but absolves itself from any and all legal liability. The integrity of the Creative Commons system rests entirely with those of the online community. At present, there are no checks in place to hold users accountable for mislicensing.[42]

Although Creative Commons offers multiple licenses for different uses, some critics suggest that the licenses still do not address the differences among the media or among the various concerns that different authors have.[32] For example, one critic points out that documentary filmmakers could have vastly different concerns from those held by a software designer or a law professor.[32] Additionally, people wishing to use a Creative Commons-licensed work would have to determine if their particular use is allowed under the license or if they need additional permission.[32]

Lessig wrote that the point of Creative Commons is to provide a middle ground between two extreme views of copyright protection—one demanding that all rights be controlled, and the other arguing that none should be controlled.[33] Creative Commons provides a third option that allows authors to pick and choose which rights they want to control and which they want to relinquish.[33] The multitude of licenses reflects the multitude of rights that can be passed on to subsequent creators.[33]

The Free Software Foundation[]

Some of Creative Commons licenses have been denounced by FSF founder Richard Stallman because, he says, they "do not give everyone [...] minimum freedom" "to share, noncommercially, any published work".[43]

Mako Hill asserts that Creative Commons fails to establish a "base level of freedom" that all Creative Commons licenses must meet, and with which all licensors and users must comply. "By failing to take any firm ethical position and draw any line in the sand, CC is a missed opportunity.... CC has replaced what could have been a call for a world where 'essential rights are unreservable' with the relatively hollow call for 'some rights reserved.' Some critics fear that Creative Commons' popularity may detract from the more stringent goals of other free content organizations.[36]

Other criticism of the non-commercial license[]

Other critics, such as Erik Moeller, raise concerns about the use of Creative Commons' non-commercial license. Works distributed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license are not compatible with many open-content sites, including Wikipedia, which explicitly allow and encourage some commercial uses. Moller explains that "the people who are likely to be hurt by an -NC license are not large corporations, but small publications like weblogs, advertising-funded radio stations, or local newspapers."[44]

Lessig responds that the current copyright regime also harms compatibility and that authors can lessen this incompatibility by choosing the least restrictive license.[45] Additionally, the non-commercial license is useful for preventing someone else from capitalizing on an author's work when the author still plans to do so in the future.[45]


The maintainers of Debian, a GNU and Linux distribution known for its rigid adherence to a particular definition of software freedom, did not believe that even the Creative Commons Attribution License, the least restrictive of the licenses, adhered to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) prior to version 3.0 of the license due to the license's anti-DRM provisions (which could restrict private redistribution to some extent) and its requirement in section 4a that downstream users remove an author's credit upon request from the author.[46] As the other licenses are identical to the Creative Commons Attribution License with further restrictions, Debian considered them non-free for the same reasons. Version 3.0 of the license addressed these concerns[47] and is considered to be compatible with the DFSG.[48]

Legal cases[]

Template:Expand section

All legal cases listed on special page.

Dutch tabloid[]

A Creative Commons license was first tested in court in early 2006, when podcaster Adam Curry sued a Dutch tabloid who published photos without permission from his Flickr page. The photos were licensed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license. While the verdict was in favor of Curry, the tabloid avoided having to pay restitution to him as long as they did not repeat the offense. An analysis by Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, director of the Institute for Information Science of the University of Amsterdam and main creator of the Dutch CC license of the decision states, "The Dutch Court's decision is especially noteworthy because it confirms that the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content licensed under it, and bind users of such content even without expressly agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license."[49]

Virgin Mobile[]

In 2007, Virgin Mobile launched an Australian bus stop ad campaign promoting their cellphone text messaging service using the work of amateur photographers who uploaded their work to Flickr using a Creative Commons-BY (Attribution) license. Users licensing their images this way freed their work for use by any other entity, as long as the original creator was attributed credit, without any other compensation required. Virgin upheld this single restriction by printing a URL leading to the photographer's Flickr page on each of their ads. However, one picture, depicting 15 year-old Alison Chang at a fund-raising carwash for her church,[50] caused some controversy when she sued Virgin Mobile. The photo was taken by Alison's church youth counselor, Justin Ho-Wee Wong, who uploaded the image to Flickr under the Creative Commons license.[50] In 2008, the case (concerning personality rights rather than copyright as such) was thrown out of a Texas court for lack of jurisdiction.[51]

CC-Music – Spanish Court (2006)[]

The issue in this case was not whether the CC license was enforceable, but instead whether the major collecting society in Spain could collect royalties from a bar that played CC-licensed music. In this case, the main Spanish collecting society—Sociedad General de Autores y Editores ("SGAE") sued a disco owner for the public performance of music supposedly managed by the collecting society. However, the Lower Court rejected the collecting society's claims because the owner of the bar proved that the music he was using was not managed by the society, since it was under CC licence.[52]


Lichôdmapwa vs. a theater.


Avi Re'uveni vs. Mapa inc.

See also[]

Template:Sister Template:Wikisourcecat Template:Sister Template:Wikinews Template:Wikiversity

  • CC PDF Converter
  • Comparison of wiki farms
  • Copyleft
  • Copyright
  • Creative Commons licenses
  • Free content
  • Free Culture movement
  • List of works available under a Creative Commons License
  • Open content
  • Open source
  • Public domain
  • Share-alike



  1. Creative Commons FAQ
  2. "The Public Domain, James Boyle". Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  3. "History of Creative Commons". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  4. "History of Creative Commons". Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Board of Directors - Creative Commons". Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  6. Broussard, Sharee L. (September 2007). "The copyleft movement: creative commons licensing". Communication Research Trends.;col1. 
  7. Berry & Moss 2005
  8. Lessig, Lawrence (2004) (PDF). Free Culture. New York: Penguin Press. p. 8. ISBN 1594200068. 
  9. Ermert, Monika (2004-06-15). "Germany debuts Creative Commons". The Register. 
  10. Lessig, Lawrence (2006). "Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and the Remix Culture" (mp3). Talking with Talis. Retrieved 2006-04-07. 
  11. "People - Creative Commons". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Licenses - Creative Commons". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  17. "About CC0 — "No Rights Reserved"". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  18. "Creative Commons GNU LGPL". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  19. "Creative Commons GNU GPL". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  20. "Content Directories". Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  21. Creative Commons Case Studies
  22. Benenson, Fred (2009-01-13). "Al Jazeera Launches Creative Commons Repository". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  23. Steuer, Eric (2009-01-13). "Al Jazeera Announces Launch of Free Footage Under Creative Commons License". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  24. Cohen, Noam (2009-01-11). "Al Jazeera provides an inside look at Gaza conflict". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  25. "Al Jazeera Announces Launch of Free Footage under Creative Commons License". Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  26. Andrews, Robert (2009-11-14). "Al Jazeera Offers Creative Commons Video, Lessig Lends Backing". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  27. Ito, Joi (2009-01-14). "Al Jazeera Launches Creative Commons Repository". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  28. Project
  29. [citation needed]
  30. 30.0 30.1 [citation needed]
  31. 31.0 31.1 Schaeffer, Maritza (2009). "Note and Comment: Contemporary Issues in the Visual Art World: How Useful are Creative Commons Licenses?". Journal of Law and Policy.;col1. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 Elkin-Koren, Niva (2006). "Exploring Creative Commons: A Skeptical View of a Worthy Pursuit". The Future of the Public Domain (P. Bernt Hugenholtz and Lucie Guibault, eds.). 
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 Lessig, Lawrence (2004). "The Creative Commons". 65 Mont. L. Rev. 1. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 Moss, Giles (2005). "On the Creative Commons: A Critique of the Commons Without Commonality". Free Software Magazine. 
  35. {{cite web |title= Open Definition| url= }
  36. 36.0 36.1 Benjamin Mako Hill (29 July 2005). "Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative Commons and the Free Software Movement". 
  37. [citation needed]
  38. "Can I combine two different Creative Commons licensed works? Can I combine a Creative Commons licensed work with another non-CC licensed work?". FAQ. Creative Commons. Retrieved 16 September 2009. 
  39. "Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported". Creative Commons. Retrieved 18 November 2009. 
  40. "Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported". Creative Commons. Retrieved 18 November 2009. 
  41. Michael Fitzgerald (December 2005). "Copyleft Hits a Snag".,300,p1.html. 
  42. Orlowski, Andrew (July 2009). "The Tragedy of the Creative Commons". 
  43. Stallman, Richard M.. "Fireworks in Montreal". FSF Blogs. Retrieved 18 November 2009. 
  44. Erik Moeller (2006). "The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License". Open Source Jahrbuch.,300,p1.html. 
  45. 45.0 45.1 Lessig, Lawrence (2005). "CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on Important Freedoms". Creative Commons. 
  46. Evan Prodromou (3 April 2005). "Summary of Creative Commons 2.0 Licenses". debian-legal (mailing list). 
  47. Garlick, Mia (2007-02-23). "Version 3.0 Launched". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  48. "The DFSG and Software Licenses - Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-SA) v3.0". Debian Wiki. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  49. "Creative Commons License Upheld by Dutch Court". Groklaw. 2006-03-16. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 
  50. 50.0 50.1 Cohen, Noam. "Use My Photo? Not Without Permission.". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "One moment, Alison Chang, a 15-year-old student from Dallas, is cheerfully goofing around at a local church-sponsored car wash, posing with a friend for a photo. Weeks later, that photo is posted online and catches the eye of an ad agency in Australia, and the altered image of Alison appears on a billboard in Adelaide as part of a Virgin Mobile advertising campaign." 
  51. Evan Brown (January 22, 2009). "No personal jurisdiction over Australian defendant in Flickr right of publicity case". Internet Cases, a blog about law and technology. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  52. Mia Garlick (March 23, 2006). "Spanish Court Recognizes CC-Music". Creative Commons. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 

External links[]

Template:Creative Commons topic Template:Intellectual property activism

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Creative Commons.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.