The following content has either been copied in full or abstracted from the Creative Commons web site to provide an introduction to this valuable resource for media designers.
Do you have a creative work that you would like to share with others but are concerned it may get ripped off and used elsewhere without your permission? Perhaps registering your work with Creative Commons may just be the solution.
"Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share. It promotes the creative reuse of intellectual works - whether owned or in the public domain.Thus, a single goal unites Creative Commons' current and future projects: to build a layer of reasonable, flexible copyright in the face of increasingly restrictive default rules."
"Creative Commons licenses are not designed for software, but rather for other kinds of creative works: websites, scholarship, music, film, photography, literature, courseware, etc. The organization hopes to build upon and complement the work of others who have created public licenses for a variety of creative works."
Creative Commons hopes this will enable people to use its search application and other online applications to find, for example, photographs that are free to use provided that the original photographer is credited, or songs that may be copied, distributed, or sampled with no restrictions whatsoever.
A Web site application process has been developed that helps people dedicate their creative works to the public domain — or retain their copyright while licensing work as free for certain uses, under certain conditions. The Creative Commons license relies upon copyright for their enforcement.
Offering your work under a Creative Commons license does not mean giving up your copyright. It means offering some of your rights to any taker, and only on certain conditions.
What conditions? The Creative Commons site will let you mix and match such conditions from the list of options below. There are four by which an artist can make accessible his/her work.
Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give you credit.
Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.
No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work. In other words the derivative work must also be license so that others can use it.
Altogether there are eleven combinations of these four conditions by which a creative work can be defined for use.
Finally, if you'd like to release all control of your work to the public, with no conditions whatsoever, you can use the Creative Commons processes to dedicate your work to the public domain. You declare "No Rights Reserved."
The licensing application process is fairly simple with three questions about what permissions and restrictions the artist wants for his/her work. There are three versions of license. One is a Commons Deed written in everyday language. A second is written as a Legal Code having the language framework lawyers recognize, and the third is Machine Readable code which one can embed in a web site.
"Creative Commons is sustained by the generous support of the Center for the Public Domain, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. Creative Commons is based at Stanford Law School, where it shares staff, space, and inspiration with the school's Center for Internet and Society".
Readers are encouraged to visit the Creative Commons web site to learn more and discover numerous links to resources currently made available by artists for collaborative or community use.