Our goal at Creative Commons is to increase cultural creativity in “the commons” — the body of work freely available to the public for legal use, sharing, repurposing, and remixing. We realize there’s an inherent conflict between innovative digital culture and archaic copyright laws. Our licenses help bridge that conflict so that the Internet can reach its full potential.
We support the culture of the commons both on a user level and an institutional level.
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV, a collection of 36 new instrumental tracks that are available to the world under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. As Trent Reznor of NIN said on release, “This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as… something…The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we’re able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed – from a 100% DRM-free, high-quality download.”
Wikipedia migrated its licensing structure from the GNU Free Documentation License to a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The world’s largest and most cited collaborative encyclopedia made this move via a community vote and for good reason. By changing to a CC BY-SA license, Wikipedia (and the entire collection of Wikimedia sites) allows content to legally flow in and out of the site with ease, enabling one of the great cultural resources of the digital revolution to legally interact with an endless array of similar cultural institutions.
Flickr was one of the first major online communities to incorporate Creative Commons licensing options into its user interface, giving photographers around the world the easy ability to share photos on terms of their choosing. As the Flickr community grew, so did the number of CC-licensed images — currently there are well over 100 million on the site — establishing Flickr as the Web’s single largest source of CC-licensed content. Flickr’s services have grown to include a CC image portal and advanced CC search features, making the site one of world’s most useful resources for discovering creativity that is available for free and legal sharing, use, and remixing.
Google has utilized CC licenses in a variety of instances throughout their digital services. Either by enabling CC-search capabilities through their main search engine, image search engine, and book search engine, or by allowing users to CC license their own content in Picasa, Google Knol, and documentation at Google Code. YouTube, which is Google-owned, has also used CC-licenses in their audio-swap program, allowing users to swap “All Rights Reserved” music for similar-sounding CC-licensed tracks, as well as enabling CC-licensing for select institutions.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was one of the first major cultural institutions to utilize CC licensing, releasing their classical music podcast The Concert under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license in September of 2006. By allowing the free sharing and re-distribution of their podcast, the Museum has been able to reach a wide ranging audience with The Concert seeing over one million downloads from over 116 different countries, creating a positive promotional tool for the museum and its classical music program.
Amsterdam Historical Museum
In March 2010, The Amsterdam Historical Museum (WAAG) released its complete collection online under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license, allowing the free redistribution and reuse of the collection for noncommercial purposes. This was the first time in the museum’s history that its collection has been available to the public. The collection contains over 70,000 objects dating back to the Middle Ages and is updated on a bi-weekly basis.
National September 11th Memorial Museum
In December of 2008, the National September 11th Memorial Museum launched its Artist Registry, allowing the public the ability to add their 9/11 inspired works to the museum’s collection. The museum allowed users to designate a CC license while uploading, encouraging community submissions in a progressive and socially responsible fashion.
Whether you’re a photographer, writer, filmmaker, or DJ, our licenses can help make your work part of the commons. The Internet is a multiplier of cultural innovation. Creative Commons copyright licenses make it easier for individual creators of culture to express themselves and to identify the freedoms they want their creativity to carry on the Internet.
We support user-generated culture in three key ways.
We generate copyright licenses that anyone can adopt. The License Chooser tool helps you choose a copyright license that’s right for you based on how you want your work to be used and where. Anyone can obtain a license and embed it into their web site. It’s really that easy.
We partner with cultural sharing platforms like Wikipedia, Flickr, and blip.tv to provide their users with the option of licensing their works with Creative Commons copyright licenses. By embedding Creative Commons licenses right into these systems, we can help users create and share their work on a large scale.
We work with technology companies like Google and Yahoo! to make commons content easier to discover. Having tools is one thing, but they aren’t useful if people can’t find them.
The role of individuals in the cultural commons is growing, but a huge amount of our cultural heritage still resides within institutions. We work with museums, galleries, libraries, digital archives, and other cultural organizations to bring Creative Commons licenses into their infrastructures to manage their materials and make them more widely available.
Creative Commons is about building infrastructure for a new kind of culture — one that is both a folk culture, and wildly more sophisticated than anything before it.
Have your own CC-licensed project to share with the world? Add it to our Case Study Wiki.