Many rights owners want to make their content available without dealing with the associated administrative processes, whilst retaining control over how their works are used. There is great concern worldwide that too much copyright material is left inactive in archives because the process of negotiating the licence is too time-consuming or expensive, even where the copyright owner does not want to make money. Now that we have a vast array of digital technology that can be used to present much of this material to the world cheaply and rapidly, more institutions are considering how they might allow greater access to their archives or knowledge.
You can read further information about Creative Commons in our Creative Commons FAQ.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others. It respects the rules of copyright, and aims to make copyright content more ‘active’ by ensuring that content can be re-utilised with a minimum of transactional effort.
The Creative Commons website provides free licences and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use non-commercially, commercially, or any combination thereof. Please note that Creative Commons licences are licences available for all, which includes educational communities, but are not specifically aimed at them. So if you want to share your own work with other students or anyone else, the Creative Commons website enables you to choose a licence (which is explained in easy to understand language and symbols) appropriate to how you want to make it available and attach to your work. Choosing a Creative Commons licence to attach to your work only means you have chosen to make your work available in a particular (non-exclusive) way and does not assign copyright to any user, who must abide by the terms and conditions of the licence you have chosen. As copyright owner you can still continue to use and exploit your work in any way you see fit.
Similarly if you come across any works on the Internet with a Creative Commons licence attached, you will be able to share this work with others in accordance with the licence and conditions attached.
However, a word of caution – occasionally, you may find works with a Creative Commons licence attached (a photograph of an in-copyright artwork for example) for which right to licence would not wholly rest with the photographer who may have taken the picture of the image. So keep a watchful eye and if something strikes you as not quite right, then probably best not to share.
License symbols and conditions
Creative Commons licensing terms are constructed so that they are easily understood and users do not get hampered by long drawn out ‘legal’ language which leaves people baffled and scared to interpret. Users can easily understand the symbols and terms and the easy way use of content is explained. The licence is constructed in two stages – the first stage explains briefly (short form) how a user may use the content. The second stage provides a longer more detailed wording of the licence. The CC licence preserves the author’s moral rights and any other rights not granted by the CC licence. All uses of content under a CC licence requires that attribution to the author is maintained.
Why choose Creative Commons?
- Other users or institutions will be able to re-use your content with attribution (and often links back), helping to market your content and build your brand
- It is becoming standard within open content communities
- Wide acceptance worldwide
- The terms are easily understood
- Adding to common stock of knowledge
- Providing resources to under developed and developing countries
You can choose licence to suit your business model. For example, it has quickly become apparent that the majority of people prefer to license out under the noncommercial condition. This means you reserve the right to commercialise your own content by setting up a traditional commercial contract with a client when opportunities arise. A CC licence can initially provide a showcase for such content.
Characteristics of Creative Commons license
- Broad grant of licence
- Not subject to individual negotiation
- Standardised terms
- Choose individual variation to suit
- Easy to understand symbols
Types of Creative Commons license
- Attribution Non-Commercial – No Derivatives – may be shared, but cannot be changed.
- Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike – may be shared and can be changed, built upon and licensed back into the community under the same licence.
- Attribution Non-commercial – can be changed, built
- upon and whilst attribution to original author must remain any derivative
- works do not need to be re-licensed on the same terms.
- Attribution No Derivatives – permits redistribution, commercial and non commercial. Must not be changed in any way and credit to original author to remain.
- Attribution Share Alike – can be changed, built upon – even for commercial reasons. Must be acknowledged and any new creations must be licensed under the same terms, including commercial use.
- Attribution – this permits changes to be built upon, even commercially, and only requires that acknowledgement remains for the original creation. This is the widest licence available.