HOME
TheInfoList



A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several
public copyright license A public license or public copyright licenses is a license by which a copyright holder as licensor can grant additional copyright permissions to any and all persons in the general public as licensees. By applying a public license to a work, prov ...
s that enable the free distribution of an otherwise
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is ...

copyright
ed "work".A "work" is any creative material made by a person. A painting, a graphic, a book, a song/lyrics to a song, or a photograph of almost anything are all examples of "works". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that the author has created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of a given work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an author's work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work. There are several types of Creative Commons license. Each license differs by several combinations that condition the terms of distribution. They were initially released on December 16, 2002 by
Creative Commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released ...
, a
U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in contrast with an entity that oper ...
corporation founded in 2001. There have also been five versions of the suite of licenses, numbered 1.0 through 4.0. Released in November 2013, the 4.0 license suite is the most current. While the Creative Commons license was originally grounded in the American legal system, there are now several
Creative Commons jurisdiction ports Creative Commons (abbreviated "CC"), since 2011, has created many "ports", or adaptions, of its licenses to make them compatible with the copyright legislation of various countries worldwide. However, more recently, CC has been recommending ag ...
which accommodate international laws. In October 2014, the
Open Knowledge Foundation Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a global, non-profit network that promotes and shares information at no charge, including both content and data. It was founded by Rufus Pollock on 20 May 2004 and launched on 24 May 2004 in Cambridge, UK. It is ...
approved the Creative Commons CC BY, CC BY-SA and CC0 licenses as conformant with the "
Open Definition The Open Definition is a document published by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) (previously Open Knowledge International) to define openness in relation to data and content. It specifies what licences for such material may and may not stipulate ...
" for content and data.licenses
on opendefinition.com
Creative Commons 4.0 BY and BY-SA licenses approved conformant with the Open Definition
by Timothy Vollmer on creativecommons.org (December 27th, 2013)


Applicable works

File:Mayer and Bettle 2 - Creative Commons.ogv, thumbtime=98, Th
second version
of th
Mayer and Bettle
promotional animation explains what Creative Commons is Work licensed under a Creative Commons license is governed by applicable copyright law. This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work falling under copyright, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites.


Software

While
Software Software is a collection of instructions and data that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to physical hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer ...
is also governed by copyright law and CC licenses are applicable, the CC recommends against using it in software specifically due to backward-compatibility limitations with existing commonly used software licenses. Instead, developers may resort to use more software-friendly
Free and open-source software Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly sha ...
software license A software license is a legal instrument (usually by way of contract law, with or without printed material) governing the use or redistribution of software. Under United States copyright law, all software is copyright protected, in both source co ...
s. Outside the
FOSS Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly sha ...
licensing use case for software there are several usage examples to utilize CC licenses to specify a "
Freeware Freeware is software, most often proprietary, that is distributed at no monetary cost to the end user. There is no agreed-upon set of rights, license, or EULA that defines ''freeware'' unambiguously; every publisher defines its own rules for the f ...
" license model; examples are
The White Chamber#REDIRECT The White Chamber {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move ...
,
Mari0 ''Mari0'' is a 2012 side-scrolling platform video game developed by German indie developer Maurice Guégan and released onto his website Stabyourself.net. It combines gameplay elements from Nintendo's ''Super Mario'' series and Valve's ''Portal'' ...
or
Assault Cube ''AssaultCube'', formerly ''ActionCube'', is an open source first-person shooter video game, based on the ''Cube'' engine. It takes place in realistic environments, with fast, arcade gameplay. Although the main focus of ''AssaultCube'' is multipla ...
. Also the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify compute ...
recommends the CC0 as the preferred method of releasing software into the public domain. However, application of a Creative Commons license may not modify the rights allowed by
fair use Fair use is a doctrine in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder. Fair use is one of the limitations to copyright intended to balance the ...
or fair dealing or exert restrictions which violate copyright exceptions. Furthermore, Creative Commons licenses are non-exclusive and non-revocable. Any work or copies of the work obtained under a Creative Commons license may continue to be used under that license. In the case of works protected by multiple Creative Commons licenses, the user may choose either.


Preconditions

The author, or the licenser in case the author did a contractual transfer of rights, need to have the exclusive rights on the work. If the work has already been published under a public license, it can be uploaded by any third party, once more on another platform, by using a compatible license, and making reference and attribution to the original license (e.g. by referring the URL of the original license).


Consequences

The license is non-exclusive and royalty-free, unrestricted in terms of territory and duration, so is irrevocable, unless a new license is granted by the author after the work has been significantly modified. Any use of the work that is not covered by other copyright rules triggers the public license. Upon activation of the license, the licensee must adhere to all conditions of the license, otherwise the license agreement is illegitimate, and the licensee would commit a copyright infringement. The author, or the licenser as a proxy, has the legal rights to act upon any copyright infringement. The licensee has a limited period to correct any non-compliance.


Types of license


Four rights

The CC licenses all grant "baseline rights", such as the right to distribute the copyrighted work worldwide for non-commercial purposes and without modification. In addition, different versions of license prescribe different rights, as shown in this table: The last two clauses are not
free content#REDIRECT Free content#REDIRECT Free content {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
licenses, according to definitions such as
DFSGThe Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) is a set of guidelines that the Debian Project uses to determine whether a software license is a free software license, which in turn is used to determine whether a piece of software can be included in Debia ...
or the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify compute ...
's standards, and cannot be used in contexts that require these freedoms, such as
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free, multilingual open-collaborative online encyclopedia created and maintained by a community of volunteer contributors using a wiki-based editing system. Wikipedia is the largest general reference work on the Interne ...
. For
software Software is a collection of instructions and data that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to physical hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer ...
, Creative Commons includes three free licenses created by other institutions: the
BSD License The Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is a discontinued operating system based on Research Unix, developed and distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) at the University of California, Berkeley. The term "BSD" commonly refers ...
, the
GNU GNU () is an extensive collection of free software, which can be used as an operating system or can be used in parts with other operating systems. The use of the completed GNU tools led to the family of operating systems popularly known as Linu ...
LGPL The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) is a free-software license published by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The license allows developers and companies to use and integrate a software component released under the LGPL into their own ( ...
, and the
GNU GNU () is an extensive collection of free software, which can be used as an operating system or can be used in parts with other operating systems. The use of the completed GNU tools led to the family of operating systems popularly known as Linu ...
GPL The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely-used free software licenses that guarantee end users the freedom to run, study, share, and modify the software. The licenses were originally written by Richard Stallma ...
. Mixing and matching these conditions produces sixteen possible combinations, of which eleven are valid Creative Commons licenses and five are not. Of the five invalid combinations, four include both the "nd" and "sa" clauses, which are mutually exclusive; and one includes none of the clauses. Of the eleven valid combinations, the five that lack the "by" clause have been retired because 98% of licensors requested attribution, though they do remain available for reference on the website. This leaves six regularly used licenses plus the CC0
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable. As examples, the works of William Shakespea ...
declaration:


Seven regularly used licenses

The seven licenses in most frequent use are shown in the following table. Among them, those accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation – the public domain dedication and two attribution (BY and BY-SA) licenses – allow the sharing and remixing (creating derivative works), including for commercial use, so long as attribution is given.


Version 4.0 and international use

The original non-localized Creative Commons licenses were written with the U.S. legal system in mind; therefore, the wording may be incompatible with local legislation in other
jurisdictions Jurisdiction (from Latin ''juris'' 'law' + ''dictio'' 'declaration') is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice, as defined by the kind of case, and the location of the issue (its ). In federations like the United St ...
, rendering the licenses unenforceable there. To address this issue, Creative Commons asked its affiliates to translate the various licenses to reflect local laws in a process called "
porting In software engineering, porting is the process of adapting software for the purpose of achieving some form of execution in a computing environment that is different from the one that a given program (meant for such execution) was originally desig ...
." As of July 2011, Creative Commons licenses have been ported to over 50 jurisdictions worldwide. The latest version 4.0 of the Creative Commons licenses, released on November 25, 2013, are generic licenses that are applicable to most jurisdictions and do not usually require ports. No new ports have been implemented in version 4.0 of the license. Version 4.0 discourages using ported versions and instead acts as a single global license.


Rights and obligations


Attribution

Since 2004, all current licenses other than the CC0 variant require attribution of the original author, as signified by the BY component (as in the preposition "by"). The attribution must be given to "the best of ne'sability using the information available". Creative Commons suggests the mnemonic "TASL": ''title'' -- ''author -- source''
eb link#REDIRECT EB {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
-- C''licence''.
Generally this implies the following: * Include any copyright notices (if applicable). If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, those notices must be left intact, or reproduced in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which the work is being re-published. * Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID, etc. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link that name to the person's profile page, if such a page exists. * Cite the work's title or name (if applicable), if such a thing exists. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work. * Cite the specific CC license the work is under. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice if the license citation links to the license on the CC website. * Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation. In addition to the above, one needs to identify that their work is a derivative work, e.g., "This is a Finnish translation of riginal workby uthor" or "Screenplay based on riginal workby uthor"


Non-commercial licenses

The "non-commercial" option included in some Creative Commons licenses is controversial in definition, as it is sometimes unclear what can be considered a non-commercial setting, and application, since its restrictions differ from the principles of open content promoted by other permissive licenses. In 2014 Wikimedia Deutschland published a guide to using Creative Commons licenses as m:Open Content - A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences, wiki pages for translations and as PDF.


Zero / public domain

Besides copyright licenses, Creative Commons also offers CC0, a tool for relinquishing copyright and releasing material into the
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable. As examples, the works of William Shakespea ...
. CC0 is a legal tool for Waiver, waiving as many rights as legally possible. Or, when not legally possible, CC0 acts as fallback as public domain equivalent license. Development of CC0 began in 2007 and was released in 2009. A major target of the license was the scientific data community. In 2010, Creative Commons announced its Public Domain Mark, a tool for labeling works already in the public domain. Together, CC0 and the Public Domain Mark replace the Public Domain Dedication and Certification, which took a U.S.-centric approach and co-mingled distinct operations. In 2011, the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify compute ...
added CC0 to its List of FSF approved software licenses, free software licenses, and currently recommends CC0 as the preferred method of releasing software into the public domain. In February 2012 CC0 was submitted to Open Source Initiative (OSI) for their approval. However, controversy arose over its clause which excluded from the scope of the license any relevant patents held by the copyright holder. This clause was added with scientific data in mind rather than software, but some members of the OSI believed it could weaken users' defenses against software patents. As a result, Creative Commons withdrew their submission, and the license is not currently approved by the OSI. From 2013 to 2017, the stock photography website Unsplash used the CC0 license, distributing several million free photos a month. Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, has contributed to the site. Unsplash moved from using the CC0 license to their own similar license in June 2017, but with a restriction added on using the photos to make a competing service which made it incompatible with the CC0 license. In October 2014 the
Open Knowledge Foundation Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a global, non-profit network that promotes and shares information at no charge, including both content and data. It was founded by Rufus Pollock on 20 May 2004 and launched on 24 May 2004 in Cambridge, UK. It is ...
approved the Creative Commons CC0 as conformant with the Open Definition and recommend the license to dedicate content to the public domain.


Adaptability

Rights in an adaptation can be expressed by a CC license that is compatible with the status or licensing of the original work or works on which the adaptation is based.


Legal aspects

The legal implications of large numbers of works having Creative Commons licensing are difficult to predict, and there is speculation that media creators often lack insight to be able to choose the license which best meets their intent in applying it. Some works licensed using Creative Commons licenses have been involved in several court cases. Creative Commons itself was not a party to any of these cases; they only involved licensors or licensees of Creative Commons licenses. When the cases went as far as decisions by judges (that is, they were not dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or were not settled privately out of court), they have all validated the legal robustness of Creative Commons public licenses. Here are some notable cases:


Dutch tabloid

In early 2006, podcaster Adam Curry sued a Dutch tabloid who published photos from Curry's Flickr page without Curry's permission. 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. Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, main creator of the Dutch CC license and director of the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, commented, "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 binds users of such content even without expressly agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license."


Virgin Mobile

In 2007, Virgin Mobile Australia launched an advertising 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, 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. In 2008, the case (concerning personality rights rather than copyright as such) was thrown out of a Texas court for lack of jurisdiction.


SGAE vs Fernández

In the fall of 2006, the Copyright collective, collecting society Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE) in Spain sued Ricardo Andrés Utrera Fernández, owner of a disco bar located in Badajoz who played CC-licensed music. SGAE argued that Fernández should pay royalties for public performance of the music between November 2002 and August 2005. 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. In February 2006, the Cultural Association Ladinamo (based in Madrid, and represented by Javier de la Cueva) was granted the use of copyleft music in their public activities. The sentence said:
"Admitting the existence of music equipment, a joint evaluation of the evidence practiced, this court is convinced that the defendant prevents communication of works whose management is entrusted to the plaintiff [SGAE], using a repertoire of authors who have not assigned the exploitation of their rights to the SGAE, having at its disposal a database for that purpose and so it is manifested both by the legal representative of the Association and by Manuela Villa Acosta, in charge of the cultural programming of the association, which is compatible with the alternative character of the Association and its integration in the movement called 'copyleft, copy left'".


''GateHouse Media, Inc. v. That's Great News, LLC''

On June 30, 2010 GateHouse Media filed a lawsuit against That's Great News. GateHouse Media owns a number of local newspapers, including ''Rockford Register Star'', which is based in Rockford, Illinois. That's Great News makes plaques out of newspaper articles and sells them to the people featured in the articles. GateHouse sued That's Great News for copyright infringement and breach of contract. GateHouse claimed that TGN violated the non-commercial and no-derivative works restrictions on GateHouse Creative Commons licensed work when TGN published the material on its website. The case was settled on August 17, 2010, though the settlement was not made public.


''Drauglis v. Kappa Map Group, LLC''

The plaintiff was photographer Art Drauglis, who uploaded several pictures to the photo-sharing website Flickr using Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License (CC BY-SA), including one entitled "Swain's Lock, Montgomery Co., MD.". The defendant was Kappa Map Group, a map-making company, which downloaded the image and used it in a compilation entitled "Montgomery Co. Maryland Street Atlas". Though there was nothing on the cover that indicated the origin of the picture, the text "''Photo: Swain's Lock, Montgomery Co., MD Photographer: Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis, Creative Commoms'' '', CC-BY-SA-2.0''" appeared at the bottom of the back cover. The validity of the CC BY-SA 2.0 as a license was not in dispute. The CC BY-SA 2.0 requires that the licensee to use nothing less restrictive than the CC BY-SA 2.0 terms. The atlas was sold commercially and not for free reuse by others. The dispute was whether Drauglis' license terms that would apply to "derivative works" applied to the entire atlas. Drauglis sued the defendants in June 2014 for copyright infringement and license breach, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, fees, and costs. Drauglis asserted, among other things, that Kappa Map Group "exceeded the scope of the License because defendant did not publish the Atlas under a license with the same or similar terms as those under which the Photograph was originally licensed." The judge dismissed the case on that count, ruling that the atlas was not a derivative work of the photograph in the sense of the license, but rather a collective work. Since the atlas was not a derivative work of the photograph, Kappa Map Group did not need to license the entire atlas under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license. The judge also determined that the work had been properly attributed. In particular, the judge determined that it was sufficient to credit the author of the photo as prominently as authors of similar authorship (such as the authors of individual maps contained in the book) and that the name "CC-BY-SA-2.0" is sufficiently precise to locate the correct license on the internet and can be considered a valid URI of the license.


Verband zum Schutz geistigen Eigentums im Internet (VGSE)

In July 2016, German computer magazine LinuxUser reported that a German blogger Christoph Langner used two licensed photographs from Berlin photographe
Dennis Skley
on his private blo
Linuxundich.de
Langner duly mentioned the author and the license and added a link to the original. Langner was later contacted by the ''Verband zum Schutz geistigen Eigentums im Internet'' (VGSE) (Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property in the Internet) with a demand for €2300 for failing to provide the full name of the work, the full name of the author, the license text, and a source link, as is required by the fine print in the license. Of this sum, €40 goes to the photographer, and the remainder is retained by VGSE. See also: The Higher Regional Court of Köln dismissed the claim in May 2019.


Works with a Creative Commons license

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


Retired licenses

Due to either disuse or criticism, a number of previously offered Creative Commons licenses have since been retired, and are no longer recommended for new works. The retired licenses include all licenses lacking the Attribution element other than CC0, as well as the following four licenses: * Developing Nations License: a license which only applies to developing country, developing countries deemed to be "non-high-income economies" by the World Bank. Full copyright restrictions apply to people in other countries. * Sampling: parts of the work can be used for any purpose other than advertising, but the whole work cannot be copied or modified * Sampling Plus: parts of the work can be copied and modified for any purpose other than advertising, and the entire work can be copied for noncommercial purposes * NonCommercial Sampling Plus: the whole work or parts of the work can be copied and modified for non-commercial purposes


Unicode symbols

After being proposed by Creative Commons in 2017, Creative Commons license symbols were added to Unicode with version 13.0 in 2020: These symbols can be used in succession to indicate a particular Creative Commons license, for example, ''CC-BY-SA'' (CC-Attribution-ShareAlike) can be expressed with Unicode symbols CIRCLED CC, CIRCLED HUMAN FIGURE and CIRCLED ANTICLOCKWISE ARROW placed next to each other: 🅭🅯🄎


Case law database

In December2020, the Creative Commons organization launched an online database covering licensing case law and legal scholarship.


See also

* Free culture movement * Free music * Free software * Non-commercial educational


Notes


References


External links

*
Full selection of licenses

''Licenses''
Overview of free licenses. freedomdefined.org
''WHAT IS CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE''
– THE COMPLETE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
Web-friendly formatted summary of CC BY-SA 3.0
{{Subject bar, commons=yes, commons-search=Creative Commons, s=yes, s-search=Creative Commons, wikt=yes, v=yes, q=yes, d=yes, d-search=Q43449 Creative Commons, Computer law Copyleft Free content licenses Intellectual property activism Intellectual property law Public copyright licenses Articles containing video clips Copyleft software licenses