CIRCA:Creative Commons


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Creative Commons Homepage

The Creative Commons is a project in copyright distribution created and run by the Creative Commons not-for-profit organization with headquarters in Mountain View California. Creative Commons started in 2001 with the intent of creating a legal framework that would give content creators the tools to release and distribute their work freely, while also giving content consumers the ability to share and interact with the work, and thereby maximizing the potential of the internet. The Creative Commons released their first set of license agreements in 2002. Since then the Creative Commons has been revising these agreements in order to make them both legally binding, as well as global in nature.

Unlike some other free information movements the Creative Commons is not about giving up copyright completely. Several of the licenses reserve some rights that copyright was originally intended to protect. All Creative Commons licenses reserve the right to be attributed. Others reserve the right to commercialize the work, and others still restrict how the work is to be distributed: in whole, or in part. In this way, Creative Commons is not a and should not be seen as a system for bypassing copyright. It is instead intended only as a method to ease some of the control copyright laws give to the content creator.

In order to license a work under the Creative Commons a content creator needs only to place a link to the particular license, and make it clear on the work that it is licensed under Creative Commons. No registration is necessary. However, Creative Commons is not a legal entity and makes it clear that they are only a middle party who writes the licenses and is not responsible for how they are used.


Each community commons (cc) licences are designed to allow for free distribution with restrictions only on how the work is to be used. Each of the six cc licenses contain various combinations of the following restrictions.


The Attribution clause is the minimal level of rights maintained by all six cc licenses. It simply requires any user of the cc licenced work to properly attribute the work whenever it is reused, remixed, or redistributed.

No Derivatives

The No Derivatives clause states that the work can only be redistributed as a complete whole and cannot be changed or modified.


The Share-Alike clause is the cc analogue of the software licenses of the Free Software Movement. Works licenced under a Share-Alike cc licence are available for remixing, and redistribution as long as the new product is released under the exact same license as the original. This clause is incompatible with the No Derivatives clause.


The Noncommercial clause is used when the author is reserving the right to monetize the product. The work can only be redistributed (or remixed if the license allows) if the work is not being used for profit, or for advertisement. Some ambiguity does exist as to what is considered commercial use, and therefore the noncommercial licenses can be the most restrictive of all cc licenses.


In addition to the six CC licenses the group does encourage the use of a tool that they do not consider to be a license. The CC0 tool is designed to allow an author to waive their copyright rights to the furthest extent allowable by law. The CC0 then, hopes to give authors an opportunity to place their works into the public domain.

Criticism and Analysis

Creative Commons attempts to bridge the gab between two polar views on copyright protection. Both copyright defenders as well as the free information movement have voiced complaints with how the creative commons operates. From a copyright standpoint the creative commons at best only repackages what the copyright system already does, that is give the creator control of how the work is distributed. At worst, it erodes the current copyright system by limiting which rights a creator has control over and at worst erodes the creators incentive to create. On the opposite end of the spectrum the creative commons has been blamed for not truly being free either, as the 'attribution' and 'non-commercial' licenses would need to be supported for the duration of the copyright (In Canada that is Life + 50 years). If for any reason the original attribution where lost, it would once again become illegal to redistribute the work counteracting the original goals of the commons. As well, some of the cc licenses are not compatible with each other and cannot both be used in the same work and redistributed under the same license. Therefore, sectioning off portions of the commons from being used with each other.

Regardless of these criticisms; however, the creative commons is a tool for authors who want to open up their work to the public while maintaining their copyright on the work. Creative commons maintains six different licences backing their own philosophy that copyright is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Each work and genre is subject to it's own discussion as to how the work should be shared. Creative Commons aims to be a platform to allow this discussion to happen.

External Links

Creative Commons Website

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