What is a Creative Commons License?

Garry Crystal

The creative commons license was created to avoid the current problems with copyright laws with regards to the sharing of information over the Internet. The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization, and their main aim is to expand the range of work available for others to legally share and build upon. The creative commons license enables copyright holders to allow the use of some of their work to the public while retaining their other work through a variety of different licenses.

Works with the copyright symbol are not usable under a Creative Commons License.
Works with the copyright symbol are not usable under a Creative Commons License.

There are several different types of creative commons license available to copyright holders who wish to release their works on the Internet. The creative commons license was created as a backlash against the rising tide of the "permission culture",in which people are only allowed to create works with the permission of large, powerful corporations. This culture is dominated by a few powerful content distributors who have a monopoly on cultural products such as music and cinema.

The headquarters of the Creative Commons is located in San Francisco and was launched in 2001. The creative commons license project won awards in 2004 in the category of “net vision”. In 2005, representatives from 46 countries and regions around the world joined this initiative, and licenses have already been created for 26 of those countries.

Several million pages of web content are available due to the creative commons license. Some of the best known web users of the creative commons license are the Jamendo music archive, The Public Library of Science, MIT open courseware and Garageband.com, a music site intended to give exposure to unsigned bands. There are numerous open source record labels available, including Magnatune, Disfish and LOCA records.

The creative commons license has come under some criticism. In its first year, it was relatively criticism-free, but now the complaints range from a lack of political or ethical values to a lack of pro-copyright stance. A lot of these criticisms come from the Internet content industry, which argues that the creative commons license undermines copyright. However, creative content licenses are helping the Internet to remain free of large, domineering companies, and helping more and more people make their work freely available online for the world to view.

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