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Exploring Creative Commons

Exploring Creative Commons


Learners will gain a basic understanding of Creative Commons and should be able to explain and do the following:

  • Understand the purpose of Creative Commons
  • Understand the conditions that can be applied to a creative work
  • Be able to identify the symbols used to represent those conditions
  • Be able to read and understand Creative Commons licenses 
  • Be able to create and apply a Creative Commons license to your own work

This tutorial is designed to help learners further explore how copyright works and why it exists and, here specifically, what Creative Commons is and how it pertains to copyright law. The resources presented here are varied to provide the learner with an option to explore the topic through his or her preferred mode of learning.

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Ten years ago Creative Commons (abbreviated "CC") was born.  Lawrence Lessig, political activist and director of Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics founded Creative Commons based on an assumption that the age-old copyright law was outdated and needed revision.  In our new media and information landscape people are not simply passive consumer, but are also creators of media on a large scale.  

Lessig (and others) believed that copyright needed revision--a new model for a new age.  Our culture, with the rise of blogging platforms and social media, is now more open and akin to sharing, but copyright's all rights reserved model does not reflect this openness.  

Creative Commons is more flexible to the needs of today and allows people to easily share their work with others.  Now, after ten years, hundreds of thousands of people have and are using the Creative Commons tools, millions of objects are being shared online and off, and "whole industries depend upon free and easy access to make their businesses run" (Lessig, 2012).  

Creative Commons is quickly leading the way to a more open and more creative future. Explore some of the information provided by Creative Commons and explore the conditions and CC Licensing and learn how to license your works.

Source: Lessig, Lawrence. "A Message from Larry Lessig." 12 Jan. 2012. E-mail;

About - Creative Commons

In this case, there is no better place to go for information than the source.


Creative Commons - About Page

Source: Creative Commons

Creative Commons Explained

Watch this brief video from Creative Commons to get a basic understanding of what Creative Commons is and why it exists.

Source: Creative Commons

Creative Commons vs. Copyright

Watch this video, also from Creative Commons, and gain a further understanding of how Creative Commons licensing works, who might use it and why.

Source: Creative Commons

Learn About the Creative Commons Conditions and Licenses

Source: Creative Commons. Creative Commons, 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2013. .

How to select a Creative Commons License

Source: Creative Commons

Over and Above

If you'd like to look a little bit further into Creative Commons and how it has been used, spend some time exploring the case studies archived on the CC website.  There are tons of examples of CC licensing in action and the difference it has made.  There are examples from music, film, education, art and more.  

Creative Commons Case Studies