Quick info on the Creative Commons

Overwhelmed by the licensing conditions, the permissions and the restrictions of use involved in traditional Copyright licensing, some artists are now resorting to an alternative licensing system -the Creative Commons.

The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization with its headquarters in Mountainview California, United States of America. The Creative Commons is credited with furthering the idea of making available copyright licenses tailored to suit the needs of artists who desire to share their work freely. These are known as Creative Commons Licenses or CC Licenses. [Read through the post to find a link to an easy summary of all the CC licenses and how they work].

This picture has been shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License and has been taken from Kalexanderson's Flickr Photostream
This picture has been shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License and has been taken from Kalexanderson’s Flickr Photostream

So first off, what are CC Licenses again?

Creative Commons licensing refers to an alternative system of licensing – a system marked by greater creative openness and lesser exclusivity. This form of licensing is meant for artists and authors who would much rather leave their work to be openly shared, and maybe even modified by other artists. It is a perfectly legitimate form of licensing and is being used increasingly by people the world over.

And CC Licenses are not Copyright?

Nope, they are not. The two forms of protection actually work with very different core principles – while exclusivity and ownership lie at the centre of the Copyright system, openness and collective attribution are the essence of the Creative Commons regime. In a way then, the two are sort of the opposite.

But in a very important way – the two systems are similar in that works eligible for CC licenses must satisfy the same requirements needed for copyrightability.

Wait, but didn’t you say CC Licenses? So there’s more than one kind?

Yes! The wonderful thing about the Creative Commons system of licensing is that it acknowledges the fact that different artists want different protections for their works. Keeping this in mind, the CC licensing regime makes room for 6 different kinds of licenses. These 6 kinds of licenses are actually combinations of different protections, and so it is important to keep in mind what elements you want to protect, and how before getting them a CC license. In addition to the 6 licenses, there is the possibility of also registering your work under the Creative Commons without any rights reserved. The licenses also come with different symbols, which should be remembered for a better understanding of the rights carried by every work.

Cheat Sheet for CC Licenses-A summary of all the licenses made especially for you!
The Creative Commons website offers all the information you need about the different forms of licenses available, but here’s a simple ready reckoner for those of you who need a super quick reference.

Ok, so now that I’ve decided to get a CC license for my work, what do I need to pay?

 Nothing. Getting a Creative Commons license for your work is very simple and merely involves getting your work registered on the Creative Commons site. But you better be super sure about getting a Creative Commons license because they are non-revocable! One kind of Creative Commons license can be changed to another, but there’s no going back from the Creative Commons system as a whole.

So Creative Commons works for me because I’m an artist?

There are tons of work that are licensed under the Creative Commons regime – like Wikipedia, the super awesome movie “Sita Sings the Blues” whose license CC BY SA, was later changed to CC-0 or Public Domain. Users of photo sharing sites like Flickr are often offered the choice of whether they want to license their uploaded pictures under a CC license.

The utility of the Creative Commons system lies in the fact that it makes art and information easily available, and accessible by allowing people from every part of the world, the opportunity to participate in or reference the work in their own little projects. Of course, Creative Commons may not be to every one’s liking, but if you would like to know more, then do visit their site, leave a comment or get in touch with me.


  1. Thank God for Creative Commons! They’ve made life easier for us common folk. For instance, without CC, planning parties would be an expensive affair. But with most artists using CC, downloading printables for non-commercial use (obviously) has made life certainly brighter and more fun. 🙂


    1. So true Kekhroneo – a lot of great stuff has come out of CC licensing – movies, images, music and games. I think the world is a brighter place after some CC licensing, although we still have a long way to go before we really understand how well the system will work.


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