A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use and build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an author's work, so they don’t have to worry about 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 CC licenses. The licenses differ by several combinations that condition the terms of distribution. They were initially released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001.
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. Creative Commons does not recommend the use of Creative Commons licenses for software.
However, application of a Creative Commons license may not modify the rights allowed by fair use 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 Common licenses, the user may choose either.
The CC licenses all grant the "baseline rights", such as the right to distribute the copyrighted work worldwide, without changes, at no charge. The details of each of these licenses depends on the version, and comprises a selection of four conditions:
|Attribution (BY)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.|
|Share-alike (SA)||Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work. (See also copyleft.)|
|Non-commercial (NC)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.|
|No Derivative Works (ND)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.|
The last two clauses are not free content licenses, according to definitions such as DFSG or the Free Software Foundation's standards, and cannot be used in contexts that require these freedoms, such as Wikipedia.
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:
|Attribution + NoDerivatives||BY-ND|
|Attribution + ShareAlike||BY-SA|
|Attribution + Noncommercial||BY-NC|
|Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives||BY-NC-ND|
|Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike||BY-NC-SA|
For example, the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license allows one to share and remix (create derivative works), even for commercial use, so long as attribution is given.
As of July 2011, Creative Commons licenses have been "ported" to over 50 different jurisdictions worldwide. No new ports have been implemented in version 4.0 of the license, which was released on 25 November 2013. Version 4.0 discourages using ported versions and instead acts as a single global license which can be used without porting.
Since 2004, all current licenses require attribution of the original author (the BY component). The attribution must be given to "the best of [one's] ability using the information available". Generally this implies the following:
The "non-commercial" option included in some Creative Commons licenses is controversial in definition, as it's sometimes unclear what can be considered a noncommercial setting, and application, since its restrictions differ from the principles of open content promoted by other permissive licenses.
Besides licenses, Creative Commons also offers a way to release material into the public domain through CC0, a legal tool for waiving as many rights as legally possible, worldwide. Development of CC0 began in 2007 and the tool was released in 2009.
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 February 2012 CC0 was submitted to Open Source Initiative (OSI) for their approval but, due to problems, it was rejected. The OSI FAQ concludes "At this time, we do not recommend releasing software using the CC0 public domain dedication" because of the reservations of being able to waiver copyright (aka "public domain") from a legal standpoint in all jurisdictions. The OSI FAQ further explains that "CC0 was not explicitly rejected, but the License Review Committee was unable to reach consensus that it should be approved, and Creative Commons eventually withdrew the application". In the withdrawal message the Creative Commons representative explained that CC0 was initially developed for the needs of the scientific data community in order to help sharing data freely.
Rights in an adaptation can be expressed by a CC license that is compatible with the status or licensing of the original work.
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:
The legal implications of large numbers of works having Creative Commons licensing is 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.
|Find more about Creative Commons license at Wikipedia's sister projects|
|Definitions and translations from Wiktionary|
|Media from Commons|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Learning resources from Wikiversity|
|Database entry Q43449 on Wikidata|
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