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What is Creative Commons?

Dr. Mathieu Paapst LLM cipm

Dr. Mathieu Paapst LLM cipm

Assistant Professor IT and Privacy Law at the University of Groningen (RUG), and Complianz Partner

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Structure of Creative Commons licenses

The Creative Commons licenses are made up of four different building blocks, these are

  • attribution,
  • non-commercial use,
  • no derivative works, and
  • equal sharing.

The first building block in this list requires users of your work to add your name to the images or text. Think for example of a photo, which is placed on the website of the user. In this case, the user is allowed to change the image, but will always have to include your name. By non-commercial use we mean the possibility to use the work of others, provided this is not for commercial purposes. For example, a photo of others may not be sold, nor may it serve as a product photo. However, the photo could be used in an informative text of others. The “No Derivative Works” module allows others to copy and use work, but does not allow them to modify the work. For example, they may not add a filter, crop the image, and so on. This way, it is prevented that new work is developed by others from your own work. Something you might want to avoid! The opposite of this “No Derivative Works” building block is the “Equal Sharing” building block. In this case, you allow others to adapt your own work, to develop new work from it. However, you oblige a user to release this new work under the same license as the original work you developed yourself.

From the building blocks described above, it is possible to create six different Creative Commons licenses. For example, you can choose a separate name listing, a name listing combined with equal sharing, a name listing with non-commercial use, a name listing with non-commercial use and equal sharing, a name listing with no derivative works, or a name listing with a non-commercial use and no derivative works. Choose from one of the six licenses described:

  • Attribution
  • Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-NoDerivative Works
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivative Works