What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons

What’s the point of Creative Commons?
Share and share alike. We’ve all heard that expression. In fact, many artists want to see their work reach as wide an audience as possible, and have the most impact.

But because copyright exists whether you register it or not, even if you want to share your work with other artists, that can be difficult. The only way you can share your work is to license it.

And because sharing (without consent) is so pervasive given that it’s so easily to just take and manipulate creative products work in the digital environment, licensing is an easier way than any other way to influence how people do that.

How does Creative Commons work?
Creative Commons is a widely-adopted licensing system. It addresses some of the gaps in the Copyright Act system, enabling people to specify how others can use their work.

If you’re someone who wants to use someone else’s work, Creative Commons doesn’t mean you can skip the effort to contact that original creator. You should still try to get in touch through their website, phone, snail mail, or whatever, and communicate about what you want to do.

And if you’re a creator, a Creative Commons license to your work doesn’t mean you renounce your legal right to your work under the Copyright Act, or that other people can use your work any old how. What it means is that you decide what works best for you from four basic types of licensing (read more about Creative Commons licensing conditions).

The four Creative Commons license conditions

CC_attribution
Attribution
If it’s your work, it means you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give you credit.
If you want to use someone’s work: you have to clearly put their name and website address on it.

CC_non_commercial
Noncommercial
If it’s your work, it means you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.
If you want to use someone’s work: if your work makes money in any way, you can’t. That means if you’re a blogger, and you sell any advertising on your site, you’re out.

CC_no_derrivative
No Derivative
If it’s your work: you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, but not derivative works based upon it. If you want to use someone’s work: you can’t change their original work at all.

CC_share_alike
Share alike
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.
If you want to use someone’s work: you only can if your work is licensed the same way as theirs.

The Six Creative Commons licenses:

  1. Attribution
  2. Attribution–No Derivatives
  3. Attribution–Non-Commercial–No Derivatives
  4. Attribution–Non-Commercial
  5. Attribution–Non-Commercial–Share Alike
  6. Attribution–Share Alike

For more about Creative Commons licenses, visit Creative Commons.