|Type||501(c)(3) non-profit organization|
|Focus||Expansion of "reasonable", flexible copyright|
|Method||Creative Commons license|
|Ryan Merkley, CEO|
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. 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. Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright, but are based upon it. They replace individual negotiations for specific rights between copyright owner (licensor) and licensee, which are necessary under an "all rights reserved" copyright management, with a "some rights reserved" management employing standardized licenses for re-use cases where no commercial compensation is sought by the copyright owner. The result is an agile, low-overhead and low-cost copyright-management regime, profiting both copyright owners and licensees. Wikipedia uses one of these licenses.
The organization was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred with the support of Center for the Public Domain. The first article in a general interest publication about Creative Commons, written by Hal Plotkin, was published in February 2002. The first set of copyright licenses was released in December 2002. The founding management team that developed the licenses and built the Creative Commons infrastructure as we know it today included Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Glenn Otis Brown, Neeru Paharia, and Ben Adida. Matthew Haughey and Aaron Swartz also played a significant role in the early stages of the project. As of November 2014 there were an estimated 880 million works licensed under the various Creative Commons licenses. As of March 2015, Flickr alone hosts over 306 million Creative Commons licensed photos. Creative Commons is governed by a board of directors. Their licenses have been embraced by many as a way for creators to take control of how they choose to share their copyrighted works.
Aim and influence
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, and has been dubbed "some rights reserved." 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."
Creative Commons attempts to counter what Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. Lessig describes this as "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past". 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.
Governance and staff
Creative Commons staff include two full time legal counsel, as well as a number of open education, free culture and free software veterans including:
- Dr. Cable Green
- Matt Lee, Technical Lead (Libre.fm and GNU social founder)
- Ryan Merkley, CEO
- Mari Moreshead
- Sarah Hinchliff-Pearson, Senior Counsel
- Paul Stacey
- Jane Park
- Timothy Vollmer
- Diane Peters, General Counsel
- Rob Myers
The Advisory Board consists of:
As of 2015, there are more than 100 affiliates working in over 75 jurisdictions to support and promote CC activities around the world.
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 Common in the country.
Bassel Khartabil is a Palestinian Syrian open source software developer and has served as project lead and public affiliate for Creative Commons Syria. Since March 15, 2012 he has been detained by the Syrian government in Damascus at Adra Prison.
All current CC licenses (except the CC0 Public Domain Dedication tool) require attribution, which can be inconvenient for works based on multiple other works. Critics feared that Creative Commons could erode the copyright system over time or allow "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."
Critics also worried that the lack of rewards for content producers will dissuade artists from publishing their work, and questioned whether Creative Commons is the commons that it purports to be.
Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig countered that copyright laws have not always offered the strong and seemingly indefinite protection that today's law provides. 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.
The maintainers of Debian, a GNU and Linux distribution known for its rigid adherence to a particular definition of software freedom, rejected the Creative Commons Attribution License prior to version 3 as incompatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) due to the license's anti-DRM provisions (which might, due to ambiguity, be covering more than DRM) and its requirement that downstream users remove an author's credit upon request from the author. Version 3.0 of the Creative Commons licenses addressed these concerns and is considered to be compatible with the DFSG.
License proliferation and incompatibility
Mako Hill asserted 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.'" He also argued that Creative Commons worsens license proliferation, by providing multiple licenses that are incompatible.
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." Works licensed under incompatible licenses may not be recombined in a derivative work without obtaining permission from the copyright owner.
Richard Stallman of the FSF stated in 2005 that he couldn’t support Creative Commons as an activity because "it adopted some additional licenses which do not give everyone that minimum freedom", that freedom being "the freedom to share, noncommercially, any published work". Those licenses have since been "retired" by Creative Commons.
Creative Commons is only a service provider for standardized license text, not a party in any agreement. Abusive users can brand the copyrighted works of legitimate copyright holders with Creative Commons licenses and re-upload these works to the internet. No central database of Creative Commons works is controlling all licensed works and the responsibility of the Creative Commons system rests entirely with those using the licences. This situation is, however, not specific to Creative Commons. All copyright owners must individually defend their rights and no central database of copyrighted works or existing license agreements exists. The United States Copyright Office does keep a database of all works registered with it, but absence of registration does not imply absence of copyright.
Although Creative Commons offers multiple licenses for different uses, some critics suggested that the licenses still do not address the differences among the media or among the various concerns that different authors have.
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. Creative Commons provides a third option that allows authors to pick and choose which rights they want to control and which they want to grant to others. The multitude of licenses reflects the multitude of rights that can be passed on to subsequent creators.
Criticism of the non-commercial license
Erik Möller raised 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. Möller explained 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."
Lessig responded that the current copyright regime also harms compatibility and that authors can lessen this incompatibility by choosing the least restrictive license. 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. The non-commercial licenses have also been criticized for being too vague about which uses count as "commercial" and "non-commercial".
In 2007, Virgin Mobile Australia launched a bus stop advertising campaign which promoted its cellphone text messaging service using the work of amateur photographers who uploaded their work to photo-sharing site 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 being 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 depicted 15-year-old Alison Chang posing for a photo at her church's fund-raising carwash, with the superimposed, mocking slogan "Dump Your Pen Friend". Chang sued Virgin Mobile and Creative Commons. The photo was taken by Alison's church youth counsellor, Justin Ho-Wee Wong, who uploaded the image to Flickr under the Creative Commons license.
The case hinges on privacy, the right of people not to have their likeness used in an ad without permission. So, while Mr. Wong may have given away his rights as a photographer, he did not, and could not, give away Alison's rights. In the lawsuit, which Mr. Wong is also a party to, there is an argument that Virgin did not honor all the terms of the nonrestrictive license.
On 27 November 2007, Chang filed for a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit against Creative Commons, focusing their lawsuit against Virgin Mobile. The case was thrown out of court due to lack of jurisdiction and subsequently Virgin Mobile did not incur any damages towards the defendant.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Creative Commons. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- "Creative Commons: History". Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- Plotkin, Hal (2002-2-11) (11 February 2002). "All Hail Creative Commons Stanford professor and author Lawrence Lessig plans a legal insurrection". SFGate.com. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- "History of Creative Commons". Retrieved 2009-11-08.
- Haughey, Matt (2002-09-18). "Creative Commons Announces New Management Team". creativecommons.org. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- Lessig, Lawrence (2013-01-12). "Remembeeering Aaron Swartz". creativecommons.org. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- "State of the Commons". Retrieved 2015-03-15.
- "Explore Creative Commons". Flickr. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- Broussard, Sharee L. (September 2007). "The copyleft movement: creative commons licensing". Communication Research Trends.
- Berry, David (15 July 2005). "On the "Creative Commons": a critique of the commons without commonalty". Free Software Magazine. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- Lessig, Lawrence (2004). Free Culture (PDF). New York: Penguin Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-59420-006-8.
- Ermert, Monika (2004-06-15). "Germany debuts Creative Commons". The Register.
- Lessig, Lawrence (2006). "Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and the Remix Culture". Talking with Talis. Archived from the original (mp3) on 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2006-04-07.
- "Board of Directors - Creative Commons". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- "CC Affiliate Network". Creative Commons. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- "Creative Commons Korea". CCkorea.org. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- "CC Asia Conference 2010". Creative Commons. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- Paley, Nina (2010-03-04). "The Limits of Attribution". Nina Paley's Blog. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- John Dvorak (July 2005). "Creative Commons Humbug". PC Magazine
- Schaeffer, Maritza (2009). "Note and Comment: Contemporary Issues in the Visual Art World: How Useful are Creative Commons Licenses?". Journal of Law and Policy.
- 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.).
- Lessig, Lawrence (2004). "The Creative Commons". 65 Mont. L. Rev. 1.
- Evan Prodromou (3 April 2005). "Summary of Creative Commons 2.0 Licenses". debian-legal (mailing list).
- Garlick, Mia (2007-02-23). "Version 3.0 Launched". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
- "The DFSG and Software Licenses - Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-SA) v3.0". Debian Wiki. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Benjamin Mako Hill (29 July 2005). "Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative Commons and the Free Software Movement".
- "CC Learn Explanations: Remixing OER: A guide to License Compatibility" (PDF). Creative Commons CC Learn. Retrieved 29 November 2010
- "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.
- Stallman, Richard M. "Fireworks in Montreal". FSF Blogs. Retrieved 18 November 2009.
- Orlowski, Andrew (July 2009). "The Tragedy of the Creative Commons".
- Erik Moeller (2006). "The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License". Open Source Jahrbuch.
- Lessig, Lawrence (2005). "CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on Important Freedoms". Creative Commons.
- "On Free, and the Differences between Culture and Code" (video). 23C3 Who can you trust?. 2006. google video docid=7661663613180520595. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- Gordon Haff (2007-11-26). "Does the Noncommercial Creative Commons license make sense?". CNET. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- Evan Prodromou (2005-04-19). "Use cases for NonCommercial license clause". cc-licenses mailing list. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- "Lawsuit over Virgin Mobile's use of Flickr girl blames Creative Commons". Out-law.com. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Cohen, Noam (2007-10-01). "Use My Photo? Not Without Permission". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
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.
- Gross, Grant (2007-12-01). "Lawsuit Against Creative Commons Dropped". PC World. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
- LaVine, Lindsay (2012-12-20). "Use Photos in Advertisements? Take These Steps to Avoid a Lawsuit". NBC News. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
- Ardito, Stephanie C. (2003). "Public-Domain Advocacy Flourishes". Information Today 20 (7): 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), 12–14 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 (15 June 2004). "Germany Debuts Creative Commons". The Register.
- Fitzgerald, Brian, and Ian Oi. "Free Culture: Cultivating the Creative Commons." (2004).
- Hietanen, Herkko "The Pursuit of Efficient Copyright Licensing — How Some Rights Reserved Attempts to Solve the Problems of All Rights Reserved" (2008) PhD dissertation.
- Johnstone, Sally M. "Sharing Educational Materials Without Losing Rights." Change 35, no. 6 (2003): 49–51.
- Lessig, Lawrence (2003). "The Creative Commons". Florida Law Review 55: 763–777.
- Möller Erik, The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License, in Open Source Jahrbuch 2006.
- Plotkin, Hal (11 February 2002). "All Hail Creative Commons: Stanford Professor and Author Lawrence Lessig Plans a Legal Insurrection". SFGate.com.
- Richard, Phillip, "Copyright Inefficiency", Music Business Journal, Berklee College of Music (Oct. 2012)
- Schloman, Barbara F. (13 October 2003). "Creative Commons: An Opportunity to Extend the Public Domain". Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
- Stix, Gary (March 2003). "Some Rights Reserved". Scientific American 288 (3): 46. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0303-46. Archived from the original on 2005-09-15.
- Weitzman, Jonathan B., and Lawrence Lessig. "Open Access and Creative Common Sense." Open Access Now, 10 May 2004.
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