Creative Commons licenses were designed to help creators utilize the Internet’s potential as a place for collaboration without copyright law getting in the way. Since CC was founded, the possibilities for creativity on the Internet have expanded tremendously. CC’s products and community must continue to grow and transform too. When Creative Commons launched, it was evident that digital technologies offered unprecedented opportunities for individuals to make and disseminate creative works, to build on others’ contributions, and to collaborate in previously unimaginable ways. The Internet gave musicians, artists, authors, and scholars a new platform no longer restricted by traditional boundaries. Yet, the complexity of copyright law stood as an obstacle to the ideal of creative collaboration and sharing. Copyright automatically bestows upon creators exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and modify what they create. The default status is “all rights reserved.” Yet, many creators do not realize that they are copyright owners, or what legal terminology allows them to share and invite others to reuse their work. Therefore, the opportunity to share often goes untapped. The machine-readable licenses that Creative Commons launched in 2002 provide the legal means to share on terms less restrictive than copyright. The licenses are standardized legal deeds that creators can attach to their song, photograph, article, or other work to clearly authorize sharing under “some rights reserved” terms. Creative Commons offers to the public a menu of licenses to choose from to permit reproduction and other reuse. All licenses require proper attribution to the creator. Most importantly, CC licenses give creators the power to choose.
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