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Creative Commons and Copyright: Anatomy of a CC License

Layers of CC License

 

CC license layers

Creative Commons has its foundations in Copyright and has three layers, and six different types of licenses. 

  1. Each license begins with a foundational layer of traditional legal tools, in the kind of language and text formats that are understood by lawyers. This layer is often referred to as "lawyer-readable" code as it states the terms and conditions of the licenses that are legally enforceable in court. Example, the legal code of the CC BY license.
  2. Since most creators, and educators are not lawyers, the middle layer aims to explain the licenses in simple language that can be easily understood. This middle layer is known as the "common deeds" layer which explains the key license terms in a "human-readable" language. Even though this middle layer summarizes the legal code, they not legally enforceable. Example: the deeds for CC BY and CC BY-NC-ND licenses.
  3. The top layer recognizes the importance of technology in the creation, copying, and discovery, and distribution of works. This layer is referred to as the "machine-readable" layer and it allows software and search engines to recognize the Creative Commons license. The CC license builder page allows you to enter information to add personalized metadata:

Metadata generator

Creative Commons then inserts the metadata you entered into the code that you copy and paste into your web page. This code generates the CC license with icon and link as shown here.

Web page CC license

Simply copy the code and insert it into your web page.

Fair Use

CC licenses apply only to items for which a copyright exists, not items in the public domain.  CC licenses are most useful when a particular use would otherwise not be permitted by copyright. This means that a CC license is not effective in fair use since exemptions are already made for fair use within copyright. 

Public Domain

Since works in the public domain are no longer protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws and are now owned by the public rather than an individual author or artist, CC licenses are not applicable to this works. Creators, however, can choose to place their work in the public domain by using Creative Commons licenses such as the CC0 (CCZero) Public Domain DedicationCC0

CC0 license basically means "No Rights Reserves" and allows the copyright holder to release their work in the public domain without any restrictions. It provides the choice to opt-out of copyright and database protection, and the exclusive rights automatically granted to creators.

 

CC License Elements

Creative Commons licenses provide creators with a greater degree of flexibility in making their works reusable and sharable. To abide by Copyright Law, all works used with Creative Commons licenses must provide credit to the licensor and the location of the work.

The following are the four elements that compose a Creative Commons license which can be combined in several different ways to create six unique Creative Commons licenses.

Attribution Attribution or "BY" symbol. This provides the most freedom as it states that the work 

 should include attribution. All CC licenses must include this condition.

NonCommercial  NonCommercial or "NC" symbol. The work is to be used for

  noncommercial purposes.

  ShareAlike or "SA" symbol. Adaptations must be licensed under the

  same license.

   NoDerivatives or "ND" symbol. Reusers cannot share adaptations 

  of the work.

Points to note:

  • All works listed under a Creative Commons license must have the Attribution element.
  • The NonCommercial element applies to the use being made of the work, not who is using the work. Works with the NonCommercial element can be used by for-profit entities as long as they are using the work for non-commercial purposes. Likewise, noncommercial organizations cannot use a work with a NonCommercial element for commercial, or profit-generating purposes.
  • The ShareAlike element requires the user of the work to license their adaption using the same ShareAlike element. Licensing works with the ShareAlike element helps to ensure that creative content can continue to evolve and grow.
  • The NoDerivatives element allows for the use of the work but doesn't allow the reuser to share adaptations made to the work.

CC Licenses

There are six Creative Commons licenses that can be applied to works. These licenses are listed below from most to least permissive:

         

CC BYThis license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. Basically this license allows people to use the work for any purpose even for commercial use.

CC BY includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator

CC BY-SA: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format,  even for commercial use, as long as attribution is given to the creator and the modified work is licensed under the same terms.

CC BY-SA includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
SA  – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms

CC BY-NC: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for non-commercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

It includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted

CC BY-NC-SA: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format but with a noncommercial restriction. Attribution must be given to the creator and the new creation must be licensed the modified material under identical terms. 

CC BY-NC-SA includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
SA  – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms

CC BY-ND: This license allows users to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format. Materials under this license cannot be changed and must be used as is, but is it allows for commercial use as long as attribution is given to the creator.

CC BY-ND includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
ND  – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted

CC BY-NC-ND: This license allows users to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format. This type of license does not allow for changes and is for noncommercial purposes only as long as attribution is given to the creator. 

CC BY-NC-ND includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
ND  – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted

https://creativecommons.org/about/cclicenses/

Creative Commons licenses in order of freedoms

CC BY-SA Foter, Creative Commons: free photos for bloggers, http://tinyurl.com/bqef7m4 

License

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons & Copyright LibGuide by Devika Ramsingh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on 06/12/2020 CC Certification Certificate for Librarians course under a CC BY 4.0 license.
This guide is adapted from Creative Commons & Copyright LibGuide by Tom Eland Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.