The Internet offers the opportunity to access, share and collaborate, but this opportunities are often restricted by copyright. In response to this tension between digital opportunities and copyright restrictions, Creative Commons licenses were created in 2002 to provide an easy way to grant certain permissions.
⇒ Indeed, the economic rights are the exclusive rights to manage the permissions to reuse one's work.
⇒ By choosing to license their work under a Creative Commons license, a creator can choose to give permission up front to share and reuse their work in certain ways, while retaining their copyright.
⇒ Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright. On the contrary, they operate within the framework of copyright laws and international copyright conventions. (Source: The Story of Creative Commons)
Here is a video licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 from a series on copyright created by CARL.
Each Creative Commons license has three layers: the legal code, the human-readable and the machine-readable versions of the license.
The legal code is the layer that contains the legal elements of the license; see for example CC BY 4.0.
The common deeds (human-readable version of the license) contain the basic elements you need to know to use the license; see for example CC BY 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0, etc.
The machine-readable layer allows search engines, websites, and web services to identify content available online under the various Creative Commons licenses. (See the License Chooser to retrieve the machine-readable code for your chosen license).
⇒ All licenses include Attribution BY (CC BY) = "credit must be given to the creator".
⇒ In addition, the licenses specify whether certain types of uses are allowed. Here are the possible options:
- NonCommercial NC (BY-NC) limits the use of the work to non-commercial uses and does not depend on the person or entity using the work, but on the use itself. That is, a company could make a non-commercial use of the work and still be in compliance with the license.
- NoDerivatives ND (BY-ND) prevents any modification to the work, which can still be reused as is.
⇒ Finally, ShareAlike SA (BY-SA) allows sharing the work only under the same conditions of use.
The Creative Commons licenses are in their fourth version, published in 2013. All versions are quite similar, but there are some legal differences between them and it is recommended to use the most recent version 4.0.
The CC0 Tool
In addition to the six licenses, Creative Commons has created the CC0 tool , which allows creators to dedicate their work to the public domain or to disclaim copyright, in jurisdictions where it is not possible to immediately release a work in the public domain.
Prior to December 30, 2022, the Copyright Act provided that a work entered the public domain 50 years after the death of its author, or in the case of a collective work, 50 years after the death of the last surviving author.
Effective December 30, 2022, the term of general copyright protection in Canada was extended from 50 years to 70 years after the death of the author. This change does not affect works that are already in the public domain. Source: A Guide to Copyright (2023)
Copyright laws and the terms for which copyright subsistsvary in each country, so a work may be in the public domain in Canada and still be protected in a country where the protection is longer.
Basically, the CC0 tool allows releasing a work in the public domain in the whole world.