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This article is from:

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Creative Commons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others legally to build upon and share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one chosen, restrict only certain rights (or none) of the work.


No Rights reserved logo
No Rights reserved logo

The Creative Commons licenses enable copyright holders to grant some or all of their rights to the public while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract schemes including dedication to the public domain or open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems current copyright laws create for the sharing of information.

The project provides several free licenses that copyright owners can use when releasing their works on the Web. It also provides RDF/XML metadata that describes the license and the work, making it easier to automatically process and locate licensed works. Creative Commons also provides a "Founders' Copyright"[1] contract, intended to re-create the effects of the original U.S. Copyright created by the founders of the U.S. Constitution.

All these efforts, and more, are done to counter the effects of what Creative Commons considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. In the words of Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and former Chairman of the Board, it is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past".[2] 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.[3][4]


Golden Nica Award for Creative Commons
Golden Nica Award for Creative Commons

The Creative Commons licenses were pre-dated by the Open Publication License and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The GFDL was intended mainly as a license for software documentation, but is also in active use by non-software projects such as Wikipedia. The Open Publication License is now largely defunct, and its creator suggests that new projects not use it. Both licenses contained optional parts that, in the opinions of critics, made them less "free". The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent", i.e., not in a proprietary and/or confidential format.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Creative Commons was officially launched in 2001. Lawrence Lessig, the founder and former chairman, started the organization as an additional method of achieving the goals of his Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft. The initial set of Creative Commons licenses was published on December 16, 2002.[5] The project itself was honored in 2004 with the Golden Nica Award at the Prix Ars Electronica, for the category "Net Vision".

The Creative Commons 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 NonCommercial license. While the verdict was in favour of Curry, the tabloid avoided having to pay restitution to him as long as they did not repeat the offense. An analysis 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."[6]

On December 15, 2006, Professor Lessig retired as chair and appointed Joi Ito as the new chair, in a ceremony which took place in Second Life.


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 International has started to port the various licenses to accommodate local copyright and private law. As of January 2007, there are 34 jurisdiction-specific licenses, with 9 other jurisdictions in drafting process, and more countries joining the project.

Projects using Creative Commons licenses

Several million pages of web content use Creative Commons licenses. Common Content was set up by Jeff Kramer with cooperation from Creative Commons, and is currently maintained by volunteers.

Sampling of CC adoption scope

Version 2 of Some Rights Reserved logo
Version 2 of Some Rights Reserved logo

This list provides a short sampling of CC-licensed projects which convey the breadth and scope of Creative Commons adoption among prominent institutions and publication modes.

Portals, aggregation, and archives

Flickr, Internet Archive, Wikimedia Commons, Ourmedia, deviantART, ccMixter

Formal publications

Public Library of Science, Proceedings of Science

Instructional materials

MIT OpenCourseWare, Clinical Skills Online, MIMA Music

Collaborative content

Wikinews, Wikitravel, Memory Alpha, Uncyclopedia, Jurispedia, Microsoft Developer Network and many other wikis

Blogs, Videoblogs, and Podcasts

Groklaw, This Week in Tech, : Rocketboom, Jet Set Show, newspaperindex


20 minutes newspaper



Progressive culture

Jamendo, BeatPick, Revver,,


Star Wreck


Elephants Dream

Bumper stickers


Notable works

  • Professor Lessig's 2004 electronic version of the book Free Culture. (The printed version of the book, however, was published under a full copyright.)
  • Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
  • Dan Gillmor's We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
  • The fiction of Cory Doctorow
  • Three of Eric S. Raymond's books (although with some added restrictions): The Cathedral and the Bazaar (the first complete and commercially released book under a CC license, published by O'Reilly & Associates), The New Hacker's Dictionary and The Art of Unix Programming
  • Teach, a 2001 short film directed by Davis Guggenheim.
  • Cactuses, a 2006 full-length dramatic movie.
  • Elephants Dream, a 2006 CG short film created with free/open-source software
  • mariposaHD, the first original HDTV series made for the Internet.
  • The Good Girl, a 2004 pornographic short film for women by Erika Lust

Record labels

  • BeatPick
  • LOCA Records
  • Magnatune
  • OnClassical
  • Opsound
  • Kahvi Collective
  • Small Brain Records
  • Krayola Records
  • Jamendo

Tools for discovering CC-licensed content

  • Creative Commons Search Page
  • Electrobel Community More than 10.000 electronic music songs released under CC license.
  • iRATE radio
  • Gnomoradio
  • BeatPick A creative commons music licensing site
  • CC:Mixter - A Creative Commons Remix community site.
  • ccHost - Web software used by ccmixter and Open Clip Art Library
  • Common Content
  • Jamendo - An archive of music albums under Creative Commons licenses
  • Mozilla Firefox web browser with default Creative Commons search functionality
  • Date a Conocer A Spanish archive of music under Creative Commons licenses.
  • Open Clip Art Library
  • - Search engine and member bookmarking for Creative Commons Photos
  • The Internet Archive - Project dedicated to maintaining an archive of multimedia resources, among which Creative Commons-licensed content
  • Ourmedia - Media archive supported by the Internet Archive
  • Creative Commons Search from Yahoo


During its first year as an organization, Creative Commons experienced a "honeymoon" period with very little criticism. Recently though, critical attention has focused on the Creative Commons movement and how well it is living up to its perceived values and goals. The critical positions taken can be roughly divided up into complaints of a lack of:

  • An ethical position - Those in these camps criticize the Creative Commons for failing to set a minimum standard for its licenses, or for not having an ethical position to base its licenses. These camps argue that Creative Commons should define, and should have defined, a set of core freedoms or rights which all CC licenses must grant. These terms might, or might not, be the same core freedoms as the heart of the free software movement.[7][8] In particular, Richard Stallman has criticised the newer licenses for not allowing the freedom to copy the work for noncommercial purposes, and has said he no longer supports Creative Commons as an organisation, as the licenses no longer provide this as a common basic freedom.[9]
  • A political position - Where the object is to critically analyze the foundations of the Creative Commons movement and offer an eminent critique (e.g. Berry & Moss 2005, Geert Lovink, Free Culture movements).
  • A common sense position - These usually fall into the category of "it is not needed" or "it takes away user rights" (see Toth 2005 or Dvorak 2005).
  • A pro-copyright position - These are usually marshalled by the content industry and argue either that Creative Commons is not useful, or that it undermines copyright (Nimmer 2005).

See also

  • Creative Commons licenses
  • List of works available under a Creative Commons License
  • Copyleft
  • FairShare
  • Free content
  • Free software
  • Gratis versus libre
  • Open content
  • Open source
  • Public domain
  • Science Commons
  • Share-alike


  1. ^ Founder's Copyright. Creative Commons. Retrieved on 2006-04-07.
  2. ^ Lessig, Lawrence (2004). Free Culture. New York: Penguin Press, 8. 
  3. ^ Ermert, Monika (2004). "Germany debuts Creative Commons". Register. 
  4. ^ Lessig, Lawrence (2006). Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and the Remix Culture (mp3). Talking with Talis. Retrieved on 2006-04-07.
  5. ^ Creative Commons Unveils Machine-Readable Copyright Licenses. Creative Commons (2002-12-16). Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  6. ^ Creative Commons License Upheld by Dutch Court. Groklaw (2006-03-16). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
  7. ^ Benjamin Mako Hill, Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative Commons and the Free Software Movement
  8. ^ the writings of Richard Stallman[1]
  9. ^ Free Software Foundation blog
  • Ardito, Stephanie C. "Public-Domain Advocacy Flourishes." Information Today 20, no. 7 (2003): 17,19.
  • Asschenfeldt, Christiane. "Copyright and Licensing Issues—The International Commons." In CERN Workshop Series on Innovations in Scholarly Communication: Implementing the Benefits of OAI (OAI3), 12 February-14 February 2004 at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva: CERN, 2004. video
  • Brown, Glenn Otis. "Academic Digital Rights: A Walk on the Creative Commons." Syllabus Magazine (April 2003).
  • ———. "Out of the Way: How the Next Copyright Revolution Can Help the Next Scientific Revolution." PLoS Biology 1, no. 1 (2003): 30-31.
  • Chillingworth, Mark. "Creative Commons Attracts BBC's Attention." Information World Review, 11 June 2004.
  • Conhaim, Wallys W. "Creative Commons Nurtures the Public Domain." Information Today 19, no. 7 (2002): 52, 54.
  • "Delivering Classics Resources with TEI-XML, Open Source, and Creative Commons Licenses." Cover Pages, 28 April 2004.
  • Denison, D.C. "For Creators, An Argument for Alienable Rights." Boston Globe, 22 December 2002, E2.
  • Ermert, Monika. "Germany Debuts Creative Commons." The Register, 15 June 2004.
  • Fitzgerald, Brian, and Ian Oi. "Free Culture: Cultivating the Creative Commons." (2004).
  • Johnstone, Sally M. "Sharing Educational Materials Without Losing Rights." Change 35, no. 6 (2003): 49-51.
  • Lessig, Lawrence. "The Creative Commons" (1994) vol.55 Florida Law Review 763.
  • Plotkin, Hal. "All Hail Creative Commons: Stanford Professor and Author Lawrence Lessig Plans a Legal Insurrection.", 11 February 2002.
  • Schloman, Barbara F. "Creative Commons: An Opportunity to Extend the Public Domain." Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 13 October 2003.
  • Stix, Gary. "Some Rights Reserved." Scientific American 288, no. 3 (2003): 46.
  • Weitzman, Jonathan B., and Lawrence Lessig. "Open Access and Creative Common Sense." Open Access Now, 10 May 2004.

External links

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Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Creative Commons
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Creative Commons icons
Creative Commons
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At Wikiversity, you can learn about:
Creative Commons
  • Creative Commons
  • A short Flash animation describing Creative Commons
  • International Commons: Creative Commons initiatives outside the United States
  • ccPublisher -(a tool to tag files with a Creative Commons license and upload them to the Internet Archive)
  • Yahoo Creative Commons Search.
  • "CC365: Creative Commons Song-a-day calendar" The Song-a-day calendar of Creative Commons Music
  • Plugin for Mozilla Firefox -(displays Creative Commons attributes in the status bar)
  • Free the Sounds - A website for sharing and collaborating on sounds, loops, songs, samples, etc. licensed under a Creative Commons license.


  • "The Commons: The Commons as an Idea - Ideas as a Commons" -(article by David M. Berry about the commons and ideas)
  • "BBC to Open Content Floodgates The BBC's Creative Archive project" -(article in Wired magazine on the BBC's use of Creative Commons licenses)
  • "Creative Commons: Let’s be creative together" -(from "Framasoft")
  • "Take My Music ... Please" -(a Newsweek article about Creative Commons by Brian Braiker)
  • "Creative Commons Humbug" -(critical article in PC Magazine by John C. Dvorak)
  • "Creative Humbug" -(critical article by Péter Benjamin Tóth)
    • "Creative Humbug? Bah the humbug, let’s get creative!" -(response to Tóth's criticism by Mia Garlick)
  • Berry, D. M. & Moss, G. (2005). On the “Creative Commons”: a critique of the commons without commonalty. Free Software Magazine. No. 5.
  • Berry, D. M & Moss, G. (2005). Libre Commons = Libre Culture + Radical Democracy. Noema. No. 44.
  • Fitzgerald, Michael (2005), Copyleft hits a Snag. Technology Review
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2005). Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative Commons and the Free Software Movement.
  • Nimmer, Raymond (2005). Open source license proliferation, a broader view
  • Orlowski, Andrew (2005). On Creativity, Computers and Copyright. The Register
  • Tóth, Péter Benjamin. (2005). Creative Humbug: Personal feelings about the Creative Commons licenses
  • Richard Stallman explains his disagreement with Creative Commons
  • A Debian Developer gives his summary of problems discussed on the debian-legal mailing list (note that this comments on the outdated 2.0 versions of the licenses)
  • "Why the BBS Documentary is Creative Commons" by Jason Scott
  • Greentown article Overview of copyright history from 1556 leading to Creative
  • Möller, Erik (2006). The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons NC License. Open Source Jahrbuch 2006.
  • Find music for your broadcast & avoid paying HUGE royalties.
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