Creative Commons licenses  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Creative Commons licenses are several copyright licenses released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001.

Original licenses

The original set of licenses all grant the "baseline rights". The details of each of these licenses depends on the version, and comprises a selection of four conditions:

  • Attribution (by): Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.
  • Noncommercial or NonCommercial (nc): Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
  • No Derivative Works or NoDerivs (nd): Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
  • ShareAlike (sa): Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work. (See also copyleft.)

Mixing and matching these conditions produces sixteen possible combinations, of which eleven are valid Creative Commons licenses. Of the five invalid combinations, four include both the "nd" and "sa" clauses, which are mutually exclusive; and one includes none of the clauses. The five of the eleven valid licenses that lack the Attribution element have been phased out because 98% of licensors requested Attribution, but are still available for viewing on the website. There are thus six regularly used licenses:

  1. Attribution alone (by)
  2. Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc)
  3. Attribution + NoDerivs (by-nd)
  4. Attribution + ShareAlike (by-sa)
  5. Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivs (by-nc-nd)
  6. Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (by-nc-sa)

Ad controversy

In 2007, Virgin Mobile launched a bus stop ad campaign promoting their cellphone text messaging service using the work of amateur photographers who uploaded their work to Flickr using a Creative Commons-by (Attribution) license. Users licensing their images this way freed their work for use by any other entity, as long as the original creator was attributed credit, without any other compensation required. Virgin upheld this single restriction by printing a URL leading to the photographer's Flickr page on each of their ads. However, one picture, depicting 15 year-old Alison Chang at a fund-raising carwash for her church, caused some controversy when she sued Virgin Mobile. The photo was taken by Alison's church youth counselor, Justin Ho-Wee Wong, who uploaded the image to Flickr under the Creative Commons license.

"The case hinges on privacy, the right of people not to have their likeness used in an ad without permission. So, while Mr. Wong may have given away his rights as a photographer, he did not, and could not, give away Alison's rights. In the lawsuit, which Mr. Wong is also a party to, there is an argument that Virgin did not honor all the terms of the nonrestrictive license."




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Creative Commons licenses" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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