Legal

CC Legal’s top priority is to responsibly steward our licenses and public domain tools, ensuring that CC’s existing licenses and legal tools remain relevant, user-friendly, and as effective as possible in service of creators and reusers.

Our core activities in support of this priority include: maintaining and updating materials explaining how our legal tools operate, creating new tools when demand and need exist, translating our tools and core communication materials to ensure that as many people as possible can understand them, and strategically supporting CC’s involvement in copyright reform, advocacy, and policy developments that affect the way our legal tools work and the ecosystem in which they are used.

Current Projects

Enabling Open Access Publishing. With generous funding from Arcadia, a Charitable Project of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, CC is researching the viability and usability of new legal tools for authors wanting to retain and regain their ability to publish their scholarship under Open Access terms and spearheading their development.

  • In 2017, we published the Termination of Transfer tool (the “ToT Tool”), which we now co-steward with Authors Alliance. This tool helps authors discover if and when they may have the right to terminate agreements they made with publishers to whom they assigned away their publication rights under U.S. law. Using the information provided by the ToT Tool and standard termination templates provided, an author can understand whether they may be able to regain their rights and publish their works under a CC license, if they choose. In 2017-2018, we worked to internationalize the ToT tool so that publication agreements governed by other countries’ laws may be terminated, as well. We launched the beta of the CC Rights Back Resource in April 2018, and are currently curating content from legal experts around the globe. This resource will allow authors to learn about ways they can terminate publication agreements when the laws of other countries apply. Learn more about both efforts here.
  • The CC Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine (SCAE) is now being rebuilt and updated on CC Labs. The form addenda are currently revised and under review by universities and others. When attached to a standard publication agreement and accepted by a publisher, an author retains rights to continue use of their articles for certain purposes and under certain terms. Learn more here
  • CC is exploring legal and technology mechanisms that enable authors to share their works on more open terms in the future. Following many years of engagement and analysis, we are documenting our research, learnings, and recommendations for future work in this area. Learn more here.

License Translations. CC actively supports and coordinates the official linguistic translations of our licenses and public domain tools in as many languages possible. Together with our global network community, we engage in a community-driven translation process that involves several rounds of editing and public review to best ensure the most accurate translation possible. Once a translation of a license or public domain tool is approved, it is designed to have the same full legal effect as the original English. In addition to those already published, there are more than 18 language translations of the licenses completed and many others on the way.

Legal Research Database. CC maintains databases of legal decisions and legal scholarship that pertain to CC licenses and public domain tools. A new database is under design that combines these resources into a single easily-searchable resource for academics as well as adopters and the public wanting to understand more about the enforceability and interpretation of CC licenses in courts of law.