Creative Commons license: the basic and guarantee of knowledge sharing in the Internet age

What exactly is the Creative Commons license? What contribution does it make to knowledge sharing? Who benefits from CC license?


This web essay first introduces the origin and content of the Creative Commons license and discusses the reasons for its rapid spread. Then, through specific examples, we will understand how it serves the knowledge sharing in the Internet age and its beneficiaries. Finally, from multiple perspectives, assess whether the CC license has sustainable use value. My conclusion is that the Creative Commons license is the basic and guarantee of knowledge sharing on the Internet, but its limitations and cumbersomeness also urgently need to be updated and adjusted.


The Creative Commons license originated from avoiding the problems of modern intellectual property and copyright law in information sharing and is the product of the needs of the times. Although the establishment of the copyright system protects the interests of authors, it deprives users of their freedom. In addition to costs, the major problem is that the general copyright agreement is restrictive. Only if it expressly allows means to spread, share and re-create, otherwise it is infringement (Kapitzke et al.,2011). Therefore, the cumbersome procedures of the traditional copyright law hinder the quick sharing of knowledge on the Internet, impede the dissemination of works, and violate the public interest of society.

In December 2002, Creative Common launched its first licensing model plan to provide copyrighted works to the public for free use through a series of public licensing terms (Eising,2019). According to the author’s different requirements for others to use his work, Creative Commons has set 4 authorization modes for CC license (step1 in image1), whose elements are mixed and matched to create the six standard cc licenses (steps in image1). The optional authorization form and terms combination (image2) grants others the right to redistribute and retain some other basic rights (Pooling Ideas, n.d.). A multitude of countries and regions have introduced CC license as one of the copyrights licensing mechanisms for digital works under the network environment(Suzor,2019).

Image1 from is Creative Commons? CC Licenses Explained

CC lisence

Image2 from Textbooks and Resources for Faculty in GW Libraries)


Dissemination and promotion

The reason for the rapid spread of the Creative Commons license is variously explained as a result of its innovation and high efficiency. In comparison with the traditional copyright protection mechanism, CC license has legal effects, as well as irrevocable. For information authorized by the CC license, the licensor shall not terminate the license at will according to wishes. When the licensee violates the terms of the CC license authorization, the corresponding license rights will be automatically terminated. Under the premise of acknowledging and respecting the creator’s copyright, CC license advocates the legal sharing, use and interpretation of the results of knowledge creation(Pooling Ideas, n.d.). Moreover, the scope of application of the Creative Common license not only covers documents but also animations and other types of digital products. Its “partial rights reservation” copyright licensing model gives copyright owners more flexibility, such as allowing creators to voluntarily authorize the rights granted by the copyright law (Kapitzke et al.,2011). It not only expands the use group of the CC license but also improves the efficiency of the boost of the Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons license application in the field of public information security, further contributing to worldwide dissemination. A number of countries have introduced cc licenses for information protection and knowledge sharing. Australia, as one of the nations, introduced the cc license earlier, released the CC license 2.5 version in 2005(Anonymous,2008). The digital content industry management department and the cultural innovation department first discovered the significance of the use of CC licensing in the public sector information reuse for industrial development and national innovation. Since then, with the attention and support of the government, it was implemented in the reuse of public sector information. According to Anonymous (2008), This action accelerates the construction of a relatively complete legal system not only nationwide but also effectively promotes the development of information reuse in the public sector, including information reuse in the government and cultural and educational institutions.



From the perspective of shared evolution, under the large-scale application of CC license, the information and knowledge available to individuals will augment. As Whitlock (2007) believes, the most accurate meaning of resource sharing is reciprocity. The reciprocity of knowledge sharing includes profitability and non-profitability.

From the perspective of profitability, many copyright owners use creative sharing agreements to authorize the sharing of works, but only to transfer individual copyrights instead of all. In this way, the knowledge product can be more widely disseminated and distributed, attracting more users who can obtain the work through the CC license to purchase derivatives. Though short-term benefits have fallen, right holders recover costs and receive long-term benefits by providing related supporting services or developing follow-up products. For example, the ID of Harry Potter has made hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from the sale of film and television rights as well as the production rights of related products, and it is still providing revenue (Foley, 2018).

Image 3 from (Harry Potter related products)

As for non-profitability,the method based on reciprocal sharing is also the most among the works authorized to share under the CC license(Whitlock et al.,2007). It includes non-profit sharing motives such as social recognition, self-realization and satisfaction of copyright owners. For example, the CC protocol is the most widely used in blogs. The most significant purpose of most authors publishing blog articles is not to obtain immediate economic benefits, but to express and spread their ideas (Nasr & Ariffin, 2008). The blogger reserves certain rights by using the CC license, such as signing at the time of reprinting. While knowledge production is not aiming for commercial purposes, the author transfers certain rights to gain social recognition, self-realization and satisfaction.

Source:( Knowledge Belongs to Everyone: David Ernst at TED x Kyoto 2012


sustainable use value?

As briefly alluded above, the concept of knowledge sharing and the achievements of knowledge sharing agreements in various countries can prove the foresight of knowledge sharing agreements. The CC license is gradually recognized by the public all over the world, including its influence in Australia. Nevertheless, judging from the actual application of the knowledge sharing agreement, whether its application has sustainable use value is still questionable. As Bailey (2017) mentions, spammers use cc license to create suspicious accounts and steal the author’s knowledge products, resulted in penalties for search engines and severe damage to the author’s website. Additionally, since the CC License is still rarely applied to binary files, the bottleneck in search engine technology and concept restricts the development of the Creative Commons License and the digital library. Google and other search engines are unable to recognize binary files embedded with cc protocol, and there are many difficulties and obstacles in the process of using binary files for authorization (Yang et al., 2009). Hence, to evaluate and judge from multiple angles, the CC license still has a lot of shortcomings that restrict its development.


Thus, from a holistic standpoint, there is ample reason to prove that knowledge sharing has its foresight and continues to play the vital role of stimulating knowledge dissemination, sharing and re-creation. The government’s intervention has extensively accelerated the spread and application of CC licenses. The promotion of CC license for knowledge sharing and innovation, affecting individuals to become the biggest beneficiaries. Whereas, due to its immaturity and substantial long-term operability problems, whether the protocol model it adopts has sustainable development performance remains to be further verified and standardized.


Reference list


Anonymous. (2008). News Brief: AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS USE CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE. Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter, 12(1), 2.


Bailey, J. (2017, July 19). Why I am backing away from Creative Commons. Retrieved 19 July 2017, from Plagiarism Today website:


Eising, M. (2019). Creative Commons Licenses: What Are the Rules for Royalty-Free Images?. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from


Foley, M. (2018). Who Owns Harry Potter? What J.K. Rowling’s Series Can Teach Us About Copyright Law. Retrieved 30 October 2020, from


Kapitzke, C., Dezuanni, M., & Iyer, R. (2011). Copyrights and Creative Commons Licensing: Pedagogical Innovation in a Higher Education Media Literacy Classroom. E-Learning and Digital Media8(3), 271–282.


Nasr, A., & Ariffin, M. (2008). Blogging as a means of knowledge sharing: Blog communities and informal learning in the blogosphere. 2008 International Symposium on Information Technology, 2, 1–5.


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


Suzor, N. P. (2019). How Copyright Shaped the Internet. In Lawless: the secret rules that govern our lives. (pp. 92–122). Cambridge University Press.


Whitlock, M., Davis, B., & Yeaman, S. (2007). The costs and benefits of resource sharing: reciprocity requires resource heterogeneity. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(5), 1772–1782.


Yang, C., Liao, H., & Chung-Chen, C. (2009). Implementing digital copyright on the internet through an enhanced creative common licence protocol. The Electronic Library27(1), 20–30.









Yichun Wang
About Yichun Wang 4 Articles
a boring person who wants to be intersting