As intellectual property continues to increase in value in this era of pervasive information and rapid technological growth, its protection as an asset has become a source of controversy. Many fields, from Web-based journalism, to education, utilize the Internet as a significant information resource. In doing so, they are testing the line between fair use and copyright infringement. In response to this situation, various “copyleft” licenses have been created; copyleft because they allow freer use of intellectual property than traditional copyright, offering alternative licensing schemes that proponents believe are more suited to the interactive, collaborative culture of the Internet.
Creative Commons (CC) is perhaps the most widely used copyleft license. It’s not meant to compete with or be used for open source software licensing, rather CC is meant for content: text, images, film, music, multimedia, etc.
So what is Creative Commons?
“Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.
CC provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.
Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright and the public domain. From all rights reserved to no rights reserved. CC licenses help you keep your copyright while allowing certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright. CC offers six different licenses:
- Attribution - This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.
- Attribution Share Alike - This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
- Attribution No Derivatives - This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
- Attribution Non Commercial - This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
- Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike - This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
- Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives - This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially. 
CC licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs. CC has collaborated with intellectual property experts all around the world to ensure that their licenses work globally.”
Creative Commons also has a special project for education, called ccLearn which aims to support the open education movement – which seeks to realize a global learning commons, built on a pool of open educational resources (OER) which are available for anyone to use and adapt as they see fit.
“In education, the challenge is to build a truly global learning commons, which requires a great degree of standardization or harmonization at the legal, technical, and social levels. In addition, there are many concerns specific to education, such as adherence to state-level standards, attention to quality-control mechanisms, and facilitation of local creation and adaptation of OER.
These varied and complex concerns are the context in which ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, was founded just over one year ago . Our mission is to minimize barriers to the creation, sharing, and reuse of educational materials—legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.”
ccLearn is in its early growth phase. One metric of Creative Commons’ success is found on Flickr, where 10 million photos have been posted under a CC license. On the CC site you can search for CC-licensed content through Google and Yahoo! And there are some 130 million CC-licensed works out there as of 2008. It is likely then that Creative Commons licensing will have an important place within the open education movement.
 Creative Commons, “About”
 Creative Commons, “Licenses”
 ccNewsletter #10 – “ccLearn”
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