What is Creative Commons?

This week I’ve started taking the Creative Commons Certificate. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, but time has not been kind. With summer holidays on the horizon, I said to myself: ‘it’s either now or never’. The reason? I’d like to learn more about CC, and potentially have a go at explaining it better.

The first assignment in the course requires to be creative around the key moments prior to CC coming into this world, and what CC is today. When giving a presentation, my slides tend to be mostly images and very few words. I like the idea of bringing out the story those images tell, and I think it normally works well. Even better when I remember to write the story down. Sharing the slides by themselves makes it difficult to relive the story. So here you go, one set of slides with accompanying text.

Most of this content is based on what I’ve read in the course materials; when this is not the case, I’ve included a link to the original source.

Domiriel’s photo on the second slide serves to illustrate the tension that set it all up. Pulling from one end we have copyright, which at its core prevents sharing; from the opposite end, the internet invites unparalleled generosity.

In 1998 the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) amended copyright in the US to equal the life of the creator plus 70 years. This further delay in works entering the public domain prompted opponents to file a lawsuit, Elder vs Ashcroft, challenging the CTEA as unconstitutional. In very simple battle terms, either you fought on the side of those who understood new creations were meant to be completely original, or for those who understood creativity is built on what happened before.

In 2003 the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the CTEA. Back to square 1? Not quite. A year earlier Creative Commons released the first version of its licenses, to allow copyright holders to let others know how they would like them to reuse their work. Creative Commons licenses changed copyright’s ‘all right reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’; they gave creators the tools to say to others: ‘yes, you can reuse my work and these are my conditions’.

Creative Commons 2019 Annual Report, released in 2020, stated that there were “nearly 2 billion CC-licensed works online –all of them are available to anyone in the world to use, or adapt and build upon”. I’m guessing the number has increased in the past year, particularly under Creative Commons leadership role in the Open COVID Pledge.

Nowadays, Creative Commons is more than its licenses, more than a non-profit organization that vows to sustain the commons; it’s also a movement that reaches into the four corners of the world* through the CC Global Network, a community gathered around one idea: open sharing.

*There are no chapters in Spain or Ireland, the two countries I call home, why oh why?


2 thoughts on “What is Creative Commons?

    1. bdelosarcos Post author

      I highly recommend it; I don’t have a lot of time to spend on all the conversations but they are extremely valuable. A condensed version of the course sounds perfect.


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