If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you should learn more about Creative Commons. Probably the quickest and easiest introduction to CC is to watch the following short video:
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.
Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”
Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.
What can Creative Commons do for me?
If you want to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work you’ve created, you should consider publishing it under a Creative Commons license. CC gives you flexibility (for example, you can choose to allow only non-commercial uses) and protects the people who use your work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions you have specified.
If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.
If you would like to see what kinds of companies and organizations are using Creative Commons licenses, visit our Who Uses CC? page.
If you would like to learn more about the different CC licenses, visit our licenses page.
For those creators wishing to opt out of copyright altogether, and to maximize the interoperability of data, Creative Commons also provides tools that allow work to be placed as squarely as possible in the public domain.
The idea of universal access to research, education, and culture is made possible by the Internet, but our legal and social systems don’t always allow that idea to be realized. Copyright was created long before the emergence of the Internet, and can make it hard to legally perform actions we take for granted on the network: copy, paste, edit source, and post to the Web. The default setting of copyright law requires all of these actions to have explicit permission, granted in advance, whether you’re an artist, teacher, scientist, librarian, policymaker, or just a regular user. To achieve the vision of universal access, someone needed to provide a free, public, and standardized infrastructure that creates a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws. That someone is Creative Commons.
What we provide
The infrastructure we provide consists of a set of copyright licenses and tools that create a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates.
Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright — which makes their creative, educational, and scientific content instantly more compatible with the full potential of the internet. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. We’ve worked with copyright experts around the world to make sure our licenses are legally solid, globally applicable, and responsive to our users’ needs.
Creative Commons and Copyright Reform
Creative Commons believes that as revolutionary a concept as open licensing is, licenses alone won’t achieve our goal of a more inclusive internet and greater access to knowledge and culture. Read our policy statement on copyright reform.
Where we’re going
We build infrastructure at Creative Commons. Our users build the commons itself. We are working to increase the adoption of our tools, to support and listen to our users, and to serve as a trusted steward of interoperable commons infrastructure.
Working alongside CC staff are a worldwide group of volunteers which consists of 100+ affiliates working in over 70 jurisdictions to support and promote CC activities around the world. These affiliates and volunteers are a vital part of the success of Creative Commons both locally and globally. If you are interested in getting involved where you live, then we encourage you to contact the affiliate in your jurisdiction. A list of CC’s current affiliates can be found on the Affiliate Network page. If no affiliate exists in your jurisdiction, then perhaps you could help start one.
In order to achieve the vision of a world full of open content, where users are participants in innovative culture, education, and science, we depend on the backing of our users and those who believe in the potential of a global commons. We are alive and thriving thanks to the generous support of people like you. Spread the word about CC to your friends and family, and donate to help maintain Creative Commons as a robust, long-lived, and stable organization.
Creative Commons is a Massachusetts-chartered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable corporation. For more information, see the corporate charter, by-laws, most recent tax return and most recent audited financial statement.