creative commons licenses

Can everyone use Creative Commons licenses without restrictions? Here’s how Creative Commons actually work

If you’ve ever had anything to do with copyrighted works or licenses, you will have come across Creative Commons licenses. At that moment, you’ve probably asked yourself:

  • what is a Creative Commons license;
  • how can it be used and
  • does it have any advantages for the author of the work.

Well, you’re in the right place. LAPIXA has all the answers.

 

Are Creative Commons licenses everyone’s property?

When the non-profit organization Creative Commons was founded in the US in 2001, they had the goal of sharing creative works, the so-called Creative Commons, as easy and quick as possible.

In general, all works of an author – whether we’re talking about texts, images, videos, musical pieces, etc. – are copyrighted. Of course, the author can make his works available to others without them having to ask for permission; though, it is crucial that these works are published with according instructions.

Most importantly, these instructions will have to include that the users of the work also have the rights to copy, alter, and re-publish it. Composing a legal text with all this information may prove a challenge for non-legal experts; however, the author has to establish limitations, so that no one else claims his work and to prevent other types of fraud.

The organization solves this problem with Creative Commons licenses and the drafting of corresponding legal texts.

 

Photo series or Youtube videos – the copyright is on trial

To understand the need of the organization and the Creative Commons licenses, we must take a look at the copyright. Originally, our copyright laws started in 1790. Since then, many revisions have taken place; however, before the development of the World Wide Web, our copyright was intended for interested parties (let’s say a publishing house that wanted to print a series of photos) which had to turn to a third party, who archived the images and managed their use. The interested party picked the images, negotiated a price and an attorney developed a comprehensive license agreement.  

Thanks to the internet, we nowadays run into copyrighted works almost daily. Some authors want to publish their works to market themselves; others make their images available because they want other photos to be available to them in return. Copyright has become a right for everyone – a common right, so to speak.

When works are exchanged, copyright still demands individual negotiations, preferably with an attorney and thus, copyright doesn’t allow a fast exchange.

 

It’s easier said than done: Now the Creative Commons license comes into play

Instead of individually negotiating with every single interested party, it’s enough to draw up the Creative Commons license once for everyone to know what s/he is allowed to do with the work. Probably the best thing about the CC licenses is that they’re valid worldwide and there are no legal pitfalls -> no attorneys necessary for that matter.


Terms and conditions of Creative Commons licenses

To help users and quickly determine how a author’s work can be used, the following, generally accepted symbols have been determined:

By combining these legal modules, rights of the work can be released according to the requests of the author. Depending on which rights shall be released, the according core license will be chosen. That’s how the author designs his/her Creative Commons license. The only existing rule is that the author and the provided sources are named.

 

The following six core license hereby come together:

Attribution / CC BY

This is the most unrestricted license, which allows others to distribute and alter the work (including for commercial use), as long as the author of the work is credited.

 

Attribution – ShareALike / CC BY-SA

This license allows others to distribute and alter the work (including for commercial use) as long as the author of the original work is credited and the new works, which are based on the original, are published under the same terms and conditions.

 

Attribution – NoDerivs / CC BY-ND

This license allows others to distribute the work, commercially as well as non-commercially, as long as the work is distributed without any edits and the author of the work is credited.

 

Attribution – NonCommercial / CC BY-NC

This license allows others to distribute and alter the work, however, not commercially and only if the author of the work is credited.

 

Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareALike / CC BY-NC-SA

This license allows others to distribute and alter the work; however, not commercially, only if the author is credited and the new works, which are based on the original, are published under the same terms and conditions.

 

Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs / CC BY-NC-ND

This is the most restricted one of the six core licenses because it only allows the distribution and download of the work when the author is credited. Altering this work and its commercial use are prohibited.

 

Conclusion

Creative Commons license are supposed to make the creative use of art works easier and quicker; however, there are a few small limitations. No one has defined what “commercially” even means and thus, problems may arise. In case you find your unlicensed image online, please let us know. We will make sure your rights are taken care of.

Your LAPIXA team