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Creative Commons: Copyright and Creative Commons

This page discusses the Creative Commons and the relationship between copyright and the Creative Commons licenses

Copyright and Creative Commons

Copyright gives the creator of a work exclusive control of a bundle of rights. This All Rights Reserved model makes it difficult for other people to use and build on your work without your specific permission. Fair Use provides limited exceptions to copyright for critique and criticism, classroom education, parody and uses that are transformative. Copyright lasts for a creator's entire lifespan, plus an additional 70 years before the works go into the public domain and become freely available for anyone to build on.

But what if you want to share your work? What if you want keep some of those rights, but you also want to open your work to other people all over the world to share and build on? Creative Commons licenses lets creators share their work with the public in under Some-Rights-Reserved, or No-Rights-Reserved.

If you want to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work you’ve created, a Creative Commons license gives you flexibility to do so, on your termsFor example you can allow use for non-commercial purposes as long as you receive attribution for your work, or you can allow people to freely use your work, provided they make the work it is used in, freely available under the same terms and indicate the changes they made to your original work. Using Creative Commons licenses, you choose which rights you release and which rights you retain.

CC licensing protects the people who use your work. Those who re-use and share your work don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions you have specified. Anyone looking for content that is available to freely and legally use, can find hundreds of millions of works, from songs and videos to scientific and academic material, available to the public under the terms of six Creative Commons licenses, with more work being contributed every day.

4 Icons to Know

Copyright reserves all rights to the creator of a work, unless the creator signs away those rights, for example, in a publishing contract or a work-made-for-hire agreement.

Fair Use grants limited exceptions to copyright. News reporting, teaching, and parody are all examples of activities that could qualify as fair use. Fair use is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and considers the purpose of the use, how much of the original work is used, and how it impacts the market for the original work.

Creative Commons lets the creator share the work and to choose what rights they want to continue to manage, if any.

Public Domain materials are not protected by copyright. They are free to anyone to use. Attribution is appropriate but not required.


Links and Resources

The Second Circuit holds that Drake turned a message about the supremacy of jazz into one about all "real music." This is an excellent example of a "transformative" fair use.

Smithsonian Releases Works to the Public Domain

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