How “Creative Commons” License Your Work

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative  works available for others to build upon legally, LegalZoom Reveiws and to share.  The organization has released several copyright-licenses  known as Creative Commons licenses for free 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. This simplicity distinguishes Creative Commons from an all rights reserved copyright. Creative Commons was invented to create a more flexible copyright model, replacing “all rights reserved” with “some rights reserved.” Wikipedia and Flickr are notable web-based projects using one of its licenses.

It allows artists, authors, publishers and musicians the option of creating and defining a flexible copyright for their creative works. Creative Commons was officially launched in 2001 by a group of intellectual property experts, lawyers and web publishers. Creative Commons licenses cover art, music, and writing, but is not designed for software.

How Creative Commons Works

Creative Commons

Creators login to the Creative Commons System and select what restrictions, attributes or modifications they wish to assign to their creative works.

The Creative Commons site will then produce a Creative Commons license for the creative works expressed in three ways. Creative Commons will provide: a commons deed clearly stating the licensing rights in plain English, legal code for the license, and a digital license code. The digital code can be embedded into websites and search engines. Yahoo has a new Creative Commons search which identifies works and recognizes any licensing conditions. Searches can be conducted for different types of licenses. The Creative Commons site also provides a website icon that clearly marks the creative work as Some Rights Reserved or No Rights Reserved.

A variety of license options exist for the copyright holder. Assigning a Creative Commons license does not mean that the copyright holder is relinquishing rights to a piece of art, it merely means some conditions could be placed on the use of creative works.

There Are Six Major Licenses of the Creative Commons:

Creative Commons Licenses

There are four major conditions of the Creative Commons: Attribution (BY), requiring attribution to the original author; Share Alike (SA), allowing derivative works under the same or a similar license (later or jurisdiction version); Non-Commercial (NC), requiring the work is not used for commercial purposes; and No Derivative Works (ND), allowing only the original work, without derivatives.

Creative Commons International

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 December 2008, there are 50 jurisdiction-specific licenses, with 8 other jurisdictions in drafting process, and more countries joining the worldwide project.

Works Protected

Work licensed under a Creative Commons License is protected by applicable copyright law. This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work protected by copyright law, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites.

However, the 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.

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