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A Transformative Year: State of the Commons 2017

About CC


At this year’s Global Summit, board chair Molly Van Houweling emphasized that Creative Commons’ vision was not necessarily limited to the internet, but instead acts in support of the creative spirit that is enabled by the internet. As we announce a landmark 1.4 billion works under Creative Commons licenses with this year’s State of the Commons report, we are celebrating that creative spirit – the people and communities who work to enable the large scale global movement for the Commons.

growth of cc licenses

While Creative Commons provides tools and programs that enable sharing on the web – the licenses, legal work, and resources that we build and steward – that work is driven by a global community that works to enable a world that is more open and collaborative. Supported by our new community-driven network strategy, we provide support to projects and people with events, grants, and solidarity work on campaigns like Compartir no es Delito! (Sharing is not a crime!) and the fight for Net Neutrality.


People, projects, and programs make up the bulk of this year’s report, but the data also supports our vision of a more creative, open world. 1.4 billion works is 200 million more than last year, and that growth has accelerated compared to the previous two years. To provide concrete examples: The Metropolitan Museum released 375,000 pieces of content under CC0 in February 2017. PLOS counts 7,000 editorial board members and 70,000+ volunteer peer reviewers to release 200,000 pieces of content. Wikipedia, one of our closest allies and partner in the “Big Open”, hosts 42 million freely licensed pieces of content. Our search tool has responded to 1,500,000 queries, and our website has been visited 50,000,000 times. And that’s only a part of our impact.


From our growing tech team to our usability initiative, we’re working smarter than ever to fulfill our organizational mandate of building a “vibrant, global Commons built on gratitude.” In order to compile this year’s report, we put out a call to our network to ask which people, country teams, and projects are making the biggest impact around the world. From Razan Al Hadid’s work to revive CC Jordan to Scann’s continued work for the public domain in Argentina, the Creative Commons community is made up of individuals working for a better world. (The fact that almost all the profiles are of women is just a happy accident for the UnCommon Women who carry the movement.)


This year’s highlights include the launch of the CC Certificates program, the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund and Fellowship (awarded at the Global Summit), the new Rights Back Resource for creators to reclaim their creative work, and stories from teams as far away from each other as Tanzania, Canada, and Uruguay.

As usual, we’ll be translating the report with a team of volunteers over the next month, and spots are still available! Please get in touch if you’d like to translate.

By uplifting the stories of our friends and colleagues, we’re demonstrating what happens when communities champion each other’s work, and how we model the world we want to see. The report’s data is always fun, but it belies the depth of the humanity that underscores the commons.

As I’ve said before, “Creative Commons is made of people,” and this report tells their stories. Thank you again for all your support, and be sure to share out your impressions with the hashtag #sotc.

Visit the report

Posted 08 May 2018