Creative Commons

By Yossi Sheriff

The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally build upon and share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one chosen, restrict only certain rights (or none) of the work instead of traditional copyright, which is more restrictive.

Akban-wiki and Creative Commons

The Akban-wiki martial arts and fitness encyclopedia is under the Creative Commons license: Reuse any portion of the Akban-wiki; please link back to us and share alike.


The Creative Commons licenses enable copyright holders to grant some or all of their rights to the public while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract schemes including dedication to the public domain or open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems current copyright laws create for the sharing of information.

The project provides several free licenses that copyright owners can use when releasing their works on the Web. It also provides RDF/XML metadata that describes the license and the work, making it easier to automatically process and locate licensed works. Creative Commons also provides a "Founders' Copyright"[1] contract, intended to re-create the effects of the original U.S. Copyright created by the founders of the U.S. Constitution.

All these efforts, and more, are done to counter the effects of what Creative Commons considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. In the words of Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and former Chairman of the Board, it is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past".[2] Lessig maintains that modern culture is dominated by traditional content distributors in order to maintain and strengthen their monopolies on cultural products such as popular music and popular cinema, and that Creative Commons can provide alternatives to these restrictions.[3][4]


The Creative Commons licenses were pre-dated by the Open Publication License and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The GFDL was intended mainly as a license for software documentation, but is also in active use by non-software projects such as Wikipedia. The Open Publication License is now largely defunct, and its creator suggests that new projects not use it. Both licenses contained optional parts that, in the opinions of critics, made them less "free". The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent", i.e., not in a proprietary and/or confidential format.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Creative Commons was officially launched in 2001. Lawrence Lessig, the founder and former chairman, started the organization as an additional method of achieving the goals of his Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft. The initial set of Creative Commons licenses was published on December 16, 2002.[5] The project itself was honored in 2004 with the Golden Nica Award at the Prix Ars Electronica, for the category "Net Vision".

The Creative Commons was first tested in court in early 2006, when podcaster Adam Curry sued a Dutch tabloid who published photos without permission from his Flickr page. The photos were licensed under the Creative Commons NonCommercial license. While the verdict was in favour of Curry, the tabloid avoided having to pay restitution to him as long as they did not repeat the offense. An analysis of the decision states, "The Dutch Court’s decision is especially noteworthy because it confirms that the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content licensed under it, and bind users of such content even without expressly agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license."[6]

On December 15, 2006, Professor Lessig retired as chair and appointed Joi Ito as the new chair, in a ceremony which took place in Second Life.


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 February 2008, there are 43 jurisdiction-specific licenses, with 8 other jurisdictions in drafting process, and more countries joining the project.

Projects using Creative Commons licenses

List of projects using Creative Commons licenses Several million pages of web content use Creative Commons licenses. Common Content was set up by Jeff Kramer with cooperation from Creative Commons, and is currently maintained by volunteers.

Sampling of CC adoption scope

This list provides a short sampling of CC-licensed projects which convey the breadth and scope of Creative Commons adoption among prominent institutions and publication modes.

Tools for discovering CC-licensed content

Audio and music

  • Electrobel Community - More than 10,000 electronic music songs released under one of the CC licences.
  • iRATE radio
  • Adrenalinic Sound - Italy
  • Gnomoradio
  • Starfrosch Community MP3 Blog with a huge Creative Commons Section
  • Jamendo - An archive of music albums under Creative Commons licenses
  • Phlow - Magazine that picks Creative Commons music and music from the Netlabel Community on a daily basis
  • CC:Mixter - A Creative Commons Remix community site.
  • Date a Conocer [] - A Spanish archive of music under Creative Commons licenses[7]

Photos and images


During its first year as an organization, Creative Commons experienced a "honeymoon" period with very little criticism.[citation needed]

Recently, however, critical attention has focused on the Creative Commons movement and how well it is living up to its perceived values and goals. The critical positions taken can be roughly divided up into complaints of a lack of: 
  • A political position - Where the object is to critically analyze the foundations of the Creative Commons movement and offer an eminent critique (e.g. Berry & Moss 2005, Geert Lovink, Free Culture movements). One of the more notable concerns to be found in this vein of criticism is on the role the Creative Commons plays as an unconcerned corporate filter. As mentioned in Martin Hardie and "Creative License Fetishism", "When one examines closely just exactly what sort of 'freedom' is ultimately to be had within these licenses, one is quick to discover that they are primarily set up as tools meant to feed directly into corporate co-option." Matteo Pasquinelli (2008) describes two fronts of criticism: "those who claim the institution of a real commonality against Creative Commons restrictions (non-commercial, share-alike, etc.) and those who point out Creative Commons complicity with global capitalism". Pasquinelli specifically criticises CC for not establishing "productive commons".
  • A common sense position - These usually fall into the category of "it is not needed" or "it takes away user rights" (see Toth 2005 or Dvorak 2005).
  • A pro-copyright position - These are usually marshalled by the content industry and argue either that Creative Commons is not useful, or that it undermines copyright (Nimmer 2005).
  • Another criticism is that it worsens license proliferation, by providing multiple licenses that are incompatible. Most notably, 'attribution-sharealike' and 'attribution-noncommercial-sharealike' are incompatible, meaning that works under these licenses cannot be combined in a derivative work without obtaining permission from the license-holder.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1. Founder's Copyright. Creative Commons. Retrieved on 2006-04-07.
  2. Lessig, Lawrence (2004). Free Culture. New York: Penguin Press, 8.
  3. Ermert, Monika (2004). "Germany debuts Creative Commons". Register.
  4. Lessig, Lawrence (2006). Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and the Remix Culture (mp3). Talking with Talis. Retrieved on 2006-04-07.
  5. Creative Commons Unveils Machine-Readable Copyright Licenses. Creative Commons (2002-12-16). Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  6. Creative Commons License Upheld by Dutch Court. Groklaw (2006-03-16). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
  7. Música Libre - Date a Conocer
File:Wikipedia logo.GIF This article was taken from the Wikipedia. We intend to improve on it, but we thank the people who contribute to our knowledge in the Wikimedia project. Meanwhile the Creative commons copyrights that apply to the rest of our Budo Ninjutsu website do not apply to this article and you may use it under the Wikipedia license. If you have an AKBAN-wiki writing permission you can help by improving or changing some of the information.