Creative Commons is a non-profit organization dedicated to the furtherance of sharing information, ideas, creativity and art: the anchor behind the work Creative Commons does is the idea that the creative and academic work should be shared as widely as possible. Creative Commons has developed a free system that works in concert with the existing copyright system – the goal being that the owners of the work share it as they see fit, limiting audience or potential modifications, maintaining financial rights and so on.
A Creative Commons license, as noted above, does not replace a copyright; this is integral to the success of the movement. A copyright is a legal right; the creator of a work of art, piece of literature, song, academic work and so on has the legal right to use this work as they see fit, and to restrict the use of this work as they desire. In general, the owner of a copyright has the right to any financial gain the works brings.
A Creative Commons License does provide an owner of a creative or intellectual work with a legal way to control how her work is used while still sharing it as widely as possible: enforcing a traditional copyright in this age where there is an accessible audience of mammoth proportions online can put a creator into a box of sorts – restricting how the property is shared means restricting this audience.
Though Creative Commons has designed their system to benefit copyright holders, they also consider the user as a main stakeholder: a pool of images, writings, art, and ideas has been gathered and is generously on offer to those who need or want them. The scope of music, visual art, films, and writing that is currently being shared, in new ways, across the planet, is staggering. There has been a democratization of the way that artists, writers and other creators can reach audiences. Creative Commons is offering a free, legal way to help those who want to share do so, without giving up their copyright.
Creative Commons, as cited on their official Website, has recruited some prolific users of Creative Common Licenses include Flickr, Wikipedia, MIT OpenCourseWare, the rock band Nine Inch Nails and, yes, even the White House. The concept is a basic one; if whitehouse.org has a fabulous photograph of the first dog, and they would like as many people on the planet to view said photograph as possible, they can send it out with a Creative Common License, prohibiting its use for commercial gain, or refuse to allow its alternation, but allowing to be freely tweeted and shared.
Creative Commons is a movement that is burgeoning along with the explosion of information and art being shared online, bringing some order to classification of materials, particularly as to how they can be shared. The rules about sharing and using media found online are murky at best; Creative Common Licenses provide some clarity as information sharing is changing in fundamental ways.