Creative Commons licenses: the brand-new era of social sharing

"Creative Commons" by Kalexanderson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A Brief Introduction of Creative Commons:

Video:Creative Commons Licensing Explained YouTube. All Rights Reserved. 



Sharing happens every day everywhere. Through Web 2.0, Internet platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., promote the sharing of information among users on the Internet(John, 2013). Internet has accelerated the rapid spread and communication of knowledge, and sharing is not only an act of distribution but also an exchange. However, it is easy to run into copyright issues when people want to cite other people’s work online. As a matter of fact, copyright prevents the free use of works, which leads to the commodification of knowledgeWang,2008).In order to establish a system that balances the interests of copyright and users, the Creative Commons license (CC license)prove to be an innovative way of balancing the conflicting interests of information-sharing resourcesLessig, 2007).In political and social terms, CC provides a simple legal basis for the users of the network. In the domain of economy and culture, it offers the possibility of a free system of knowledge sharing for the sustainable development of the education and research market.

The Brief History of Creative Commons License

The earliest awareness of copyright appeared in England, the Statute of Anne 1709 (Norman, 2020). This copyright regulated books and the rights of authors. The primary purpose of copyright is to protect the labour rights of the original author rather than to encourage public learning (Norman, 2020). This statute takes into account disputes over interests in the spreading process, so using government intervention to maintain copyright awareness creates an element of unfree sharing. In the history of the development of copyright law, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) in the U.S. motivates authors to share their creations by giving them a limited monopoly on their work (CreativeCommons, 2020).

The founder of the CC license, Lawrence Lessig, argues that CTEA is interested in the commercialization of knowledge and CTEA does not fully enable cultural sharing (CreativeCommons, 2020). Then the Creative Commons License emerged as the time required. It is a non-profit organization that allows creators to retain the copyright of their works while adding the flexibility of free choice of copyright (CreativeCommons, 2020). The CC license also provides a simple way for the recipient to share their works in online culture (Pooling Ideas, n.d.). A legal basis is guaranteed for the sharing of culture and the equitable access of everyone to licensors and recipients without the risk of copyright disputes.

Figure1.:”Share” by Got Credit is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Influence of Information Management Trends by CC License:

With the development of copyright, information management could not be achieved without the support of technology. Copyrights become the basis for sharing process whereas rules restrict the public’s right to use the works freely and properly. However, the emergence of the CC license solves the problem of the monopoly of ideas. As to the copyright, it only protects the expression of works, not the ideas based on them (Stim & law, 2019). CC license is an innovation that satisfies the needs of cultural sharing by combining the tool with the wide use of the users to form a community of resources (CreativeCommons, n.d.). For the public, the CC license is more convenient for people to check the information provided by the license and the scope of license information at the bottom of the work will be marked out so as to avoid financial conflict caused by the recipient(CreativeCommons, 2020). By using CC license, the public can easily find image information in search engines and feel free to employ it (Felician, 2012). Furthermore, CC launched Creative Commons Search to satisfy more people’s demands with an image search. The organization states that nearly 60,000 users search on its website every month (Perez, 2017). Therefore, the use of image search technology and CC licenses has enabled users to form a sustainable relationship with its resources and promote the freedom to share culture under the trend of information management.

Figure2.: “Creative Commons Licenses” by isabella.ell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Who Benefits from CC? Who does not?

CC is a textual technology and digital creativity that is a positive process for people to reshape and re-integrate cultures (Lessig, 2007). In the use of CC, licensors and recipients enter into a win-win relationship with each other. For licensors, their rights are ownership of the work and for recipients, they have the right to share. However, the rights of licensors are more powerful because licensors determine the sharing notions of the work, for example, the limitations of attribution (BY), noncommercial (NC), no derivative works (ND) and share like (SA) ( Pooling Ideas, n.d.). Furthermore, if a licensor does not permit his work to be used commercially, the licensor has got the right to choose BY-NC-SA or BY-NC-ND as the type of use for recipients. This technology affects the role of cultural mixing and makes speech freer because the CC license does not monopolize knowledge(Lessig, 2007). This model encourages creators to publish works on the platform, and then users can obtain valuable information through CC. Finally, a win-win relationship is taken on the shape.

From another point of view, CC has also gained the reputation of its organization from people’s use:

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released photos using the world’s most advanced ground-based telescope(Cameron, 2008). Therefore, people can see these photos in CC Search and can query the license information to share with the public.


  • From a political and social perspective, the innovation of CC has transformed people from traditional situations where sharing of knowledge was restricted (Lessig, 2007). In conjunction with the above mentioned, the emergence of CC has resolved copyright conflicts between users and their works and has better provided a simple legal basis for sharing online.
  • Viewing it from economical and cultural aspects, CC promotes an environment of cultural sharing. As Lessig mentioned, copyright is too expensive to commoditize knowledge and the emergence of CC balances the market of knowledge monopoly (Lessig, 2007). Lessig, the founder of CC, has made knowledge available to the public through CC’s innovations who advocated that sharing culture can provide greater value. Furthermore, the use of CC in education and research does not disrupt the economic viability of licensor (Carroll, 2013).

For students, students are free to participate in knowledge sharing activities through CC. CC provides a sharing activity that preserves the honor of the original creator while encouraging users to think creatively about knowledge (Liu et al., 2014). In this regard, CC distribution manipulates the value of knowledge sharing, raising the level of thinking skills for learning and exercising students’ performance (Liu et al., 2014). For example, the University of Michigan’s Open Database of Medical Education Materials uses almost the entire set of CC licenses (Carroll, 2013). This manifests the superiority and great benefits as the market value of CC in creating shared educational resources, meeting the needs of students for learning resources and opening up the educational marketplace. Furthermore, Science Commons is a project of CC that works to make the literature and shared data more accessible to academia and the scientific industry (Cook-Deegan, 2007).

This project constitutes a sustainable relationship between science and the resources of the public domain. For example, Google founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki have donated $500,000 to CC in support of the Science Commons project ( Melissa, 2009). This move is an act of recognition for the nonprofit organization CC, and it shows exactly how the market value that CC brings positively affects online users and platforms.


The innovation of CC license has encouraged users to publish works and share knowledge on the platform. In the aspects of public interest and the accessible channel of the use of the work, CC provides the creator with ownership of the work and the user with the right to share it (Lessig, 2007). From the angle of society  and politics, people use CC to solve problems that conflict with copyright interests while users benefit from knowledge sharing (Lessig, 2007). In respects of economy and culture, everyone benefits from the market value of CC in the education and research markets (Carroll, 2013).Accordingly, students  feel free to enjoy the profits from the abundant  resources of CC to fulfill their needs and to sustain knowledge sharing.


John, N. (2013). Sharing and Web 2.0: The emergence of a keyword. New Media & Society, 15(2), 167-182. doi: 10.1177/1461444812450684


Lessig, L. (2007). The Vision for the Creative Commons: What are we and where are we headed? Free Culture. Sydney University Press.

Norman, J. (2020). The Statute of Anne: The First Copyright Statute : History of Information. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

CreativeCommons. (2020). 1.1 The Story of Creative Commons | Creative Commons Certificate for Educators and Librarians. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

Pooling Ideas. (n.d.). What is Creative Commons? Retrieved 30 July 2020, from Creative commons website:

Stim, R. (2020). Copyright Basics FAQ. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

CreativeCommons. About The Licenses – Creative Commons. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

Felician Alecu. (2012). Information Technology Trends, Creative Commons Licenses. Oeconomics of Knowledge, 4(5), 2–7.

Perez, S. (2017, February 7). Creative Commons unveils a new photo search engine with filters, lists & social sharing. TechCrunch.

Cameron. (2008). ESO CC-Licensed Photo and Video – Creative Commons. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

Carroll, M., & Carroll, M. (2013). Creative Commons and the openness of open access. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368(9), 789–791.

Liu, C., Lin, C., Deng, K., Wu, Y., & Tsai, C. (2014). Online knowledge sharing experience with Creative Commons. Online Information Review, 38(5), 680-696. doi: 10.1108/oir-12-2013-0280

Cook-Deegan, R., & Cook-Deegan, R. (2007). The science commons in health research: structure, function, and value. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 32, 133–156.

Melissa. (2009). Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin Support CC with $500,000 Gift – Creative Commons. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from

NobleM. (2015). Creative Commons Licensing Explained. YouTube.

Puying Chen
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