Taking Stock of the Creative Commons Experiment

Mike Linksvayer, October 2nd, 2007

As Creative Commons approaches its 5th birthday it makes sense for papers to appear with titles like Taking Stock of the Creative Commons Experiment: Monitoring the Use of Creative Commons Licenses and Evaluating Its Implications for the Future of Creative Commons and for Copyright Law. This paper, presented a few days ago at TPRC 2007 (though not the final version), is from Giorgos Cheliotis, Warren Chik, Ankit Guglani, Giri Kumar Tayi. It offers an expanded and extremely interesting analysis expanding on that presented by Cheliotis this summer at our annual summit.

Read the paper or just skim for some neat graphs concerning CC license adoption and license mix against criteria such as region, wealth, population, and license launch date.

If you’re in San Francisco you can ask in person about this research as Giorgos Cheliotis will be one of the presenters at next week’s CC Salon. A full announcement for that event will be posted here soon.

Giorgos Cheliotis at iSummit 2007, photo by Dominick Chen licensed under CC BY.

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Creative Commons statistics@iSummit 2007

Mike Linksvayer, June 28th, 2007

It has been a long time since we’ve posted a proper update on Creative Commons license adoption statistics, so a presentation on this topic was eagerly awaited at this year’s Creative Commons international meetings at the iSummit.

I led off with an overview presentation (PDF; Scribd; Slideshare). Here are the major points:

  • Metrics based on search engine queries are conceptually straightforward but highly volatile and hard to verify, but the overall growth trend looks good.
  • We’re also seeing strong growth at leading CC-enabled content repositories and strong growth of innovative CC-enabled repositories.
  • Upcoming challenges including measuring reuse.
  • Big mistake: not encouraging rigorous outside analysis by people who know something about statistics long ago.

With that last point in mind, I’ve been thrilled to be in correspondence with Giorgos Cheliotis of Singapore Management University. Giorgos had been doing independent research on open culture and digital media ecosystem topics, including Creative Commons adoption. He has academic papers on the subject in the works and we were very lucky to have him give us a taste at the iSummit. View his presentation: (PDF; Scribd; Slideshare).

While the presentation is based on a snapshot from early this year, it includes some very interesting findings, including an experimental index based on license choices in different jurisdictions (e.g., Sweden seems to be the most liberal so far), while Spain is the standout in terms of overall Creative Commons adoption.

I’m really eager to see the results of this research published and for future research taking into account time series data and additional sources. In the meantime Giorgos’ presentation is the place to start if you’re interested in CC license adoption statistics. If you’re a researcher with interest in this topic see contact information in the presentation.

Addendum: Giorgos summarizes the main findings on his blog.

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Midyear license adoption estimates

Mike Linksvayer, June 13th, 2006

In April we belatedly blogged license adoption estimates for December 2005, which had been published elsewhere in December. That estimate, based on Google queries restricted to CC-licensed content, came to 45 million web pages under a Creative Commons license.

What a difference six months make. Our current aggregate estimate, also based on Google queries for CC content, comes to 140 million pages. Impressive, though it must be noted that this much higher number is probably the result of both increasing use of CC licenses and overall growth of Google’s index.

In April we also gave a current breakdown of license use by license property. Here is an updated breakdown:

Distribution of licenses deployed. Those
without 'by' (attribution) were not versioned past 1.0 (excepting public domain, which is not versioned).


Distribution of licenses deployed. Those without ‘by’ (attribution) were not versioned past 1.0 (excepting public domain, which is not versioned).

The increased use of more liberal licenses noted in April seems to have
accelerated, though again it must be noted that some of the change may
be due to search index variability (Yahoo!’s in this case, as Yahoo!
facilitates searching for specific license URLs with link: queries).

License Property February 2005 April
June 2006
NonCommercial 74% 71% 68%
NoDerivs 33% 28% 24%
ShareAlike 49% 48% 45%

Look for another update in December, hopefully with some indications of
adoption across jurisdictions and languages (again with many caveats).

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53 million pages licensed

Mike Linksvayer, August 9th, 2005

Yesterday Yahoo! announced that their search index had grown to 20 billion documents. That, along with continued adoption of Creative Commons licenses, explains 53 million linkbacks to our licenses according to Yahoo! linkback queries. In May, when Yahoo!’s index apparently consisted of 8 billion documents, we found 16 million pages with license links. So discounting the growth of Yahoo!’s index, the number of Creative Commons license links have increased by approximately one third in the past three months alone — 53/(16*(20/8)) = 1.325. Take the exact numbers with a lump of salt, but the indication of growth is impressive nonetheless.

You can search for Creative Commons licensed content at Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons.

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Flickr’s Creative Commons area back, grown way over a million images licensed

Matt Haughey, April 29th, 2005

Flickr, who we interviewed last year, has reopened the area of their site devoted to Creative Commons licensed images. If you’re looking for a photo to drop into a collage, a report for school, or even onto a t-shirt, this is a great place to browse and search for specific licensed photos. We’re also happy to see growth at Flickr has gone way beyond our expectations to nearly 1.5 million photos licensed for reuse.

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CC search index breakdown

Mike Linksvayer, March 7th, 2005

Folks love a license distribution breakdown, so here’s another, this from the current index of 1.2 million pages (larger crawls forthcoming) used by the Creative Commons search engine:

Allows commercial use Allows derivative works Allows both
Audio 32 78 32
Image 19 48 16
Interactive 31 65 27
Text 28 69 23
Video 13 65 12
All 27 70 23

All numbers in the above table are percentages: 32 percent of pages marked as containing audio content use licenses that allow commercial use, 78 percent allow derivatives, and 32 percent allow both. In the case of audio works, almost nobody has chosen to allow commercial use without also allowing derivatives.

It appears that people licensing audio have chosen to offer more liberal terms than average while those licensing still and moving images have chosen less liberal terms than average.

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License Distribution

Neeru Paharia, February 25th, 2005

Last week we mentioned there were over 5 million web pages linking to Creative Commons licenses. This week, it has come to our attention that Yahoo! has updated their index to find well over 10 million web pages that link to our licenses. If you’re curious at all to see what licenses people are choosing, you can see the breakdown here, on this chart:


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How Many Web Pages Link to a CC License?

Neeru Paharia, February 18th, 2005

At the end of 2003, we were proud to announce that over 1 million web pages had linked to Creative Commons licenses. Today, we are even more proud to say that this number is now well over 5 million web pages. Thanks to you, a vibrant base of free culture is flourishing.

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