The Liberation on Copyright…! Why the CC license is important to the internet

Creative Commons license: Current status and effect

Image: Kristina Alexanderson. Some rights reserved.

Creative Commons license, in other words, CC License, is now accepted by most of the companies and individuals to maintain their rights. The issue about protecting copyright is not a current rising phenomenon, but from centuries ago, people started to take copyright seriously as their authority. Nowadays, it seems that “collaboration”, “creativity” and “sharing” are connected in the digital age(Araya, 2011). The publishing of Creative Commons license guarantees creators’ work using a much more flexible license and adapts the current internet environment which encourages users to share and communicate. Nevertheless, it is still controversial whether CC license could protect creators’ copyright from the root. In this essay, I will demonstrate how CC license was founded, and why it is useful in today’s society. Moreover, I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this internet innovation.

A brief explanation of the Creative Commons License. Youtube Video: Process Arts&Creative Commons Aotearo New Zealand. Some rights reserved.


How did it start…?

The first copyright law was enacted in 1790, especially in the music industry, was pretty strict to remix culture and ideas. While all things are under the legislation, Thomas Jefferson states that compared to legal restrictions, it is better to keep ideas in the public domain(Garcelon, 2009). With the development of the internet, people started to engage in the online society, yet it was risky because all the artworks were protected under the copyright law, and there were few opportunities for individuals to be creative and share their thoughts. In 1999, Lawrence Lessig, one of the founders of Creative Commons, claimed that:

“the balance between public and private interests, and between the free flow of expressions of ideas and knowledge and state-guaranteed control and monopolies must at all times be carefully crafted, in the interest of both the society and the economy of a country, and that present tendency favour monopolies and control too much”

In order to maintain the balance of expressions and control, suiting the contemporary networked sites, Lessig, Abelson and Eldred founded Creative Commons in 2001, which “Commons” stand for public resources that people could access, and the 1.0 version of the license was launched (Bailey, 2017) and the website went online(Garcelon, 2009) in 2002. The Creative Commons license includes disparate symbols which people can realize whether they could use in certain ways, not only protecting creators’ copyright but also giving ordinary people the right to choose and use numbers of resources.


Flexibility more than Controlling!

This internet innovation is not coincidentally but followed the trend of the internet and media communications through periods. Participatory culture became the mainstream under web 2.0 system, encouraging users to provide their thoughts and engage in the online society. In particular, social media contains user-generated content world-widely(Liu,, 2013), and people are willing to involve in the virtual world to communicate and openly share their ideas. In addition, people could easily access non-rivalrous resources on the internet, therefore there was no necessity for users to hesitate among other legal pieces of literature (Garcelon, 2009).

Besides, the rising of digital culture age with tons of data storage made it more difficult to manage resources under the control of legislation. In this case, operating a new regulating form of copyright is irreversible because the essence of social media is totally different from media communications previously, with opened forums and sharing culture taking up a large part instead of simply communicating and information accessing.


Image: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps icons on mobile phone. some rights reserved


Advances or Bugs?

In fact, owners obtained all rights according to traditional copyright law. Although the establishment of Creative Commons license was on the basis of the original act, it advocates individuals posting online publicly by assuming a “some rights reserved” approach and allows sharing and reusing with a lower legal barrier(Casey, 2012). Simultaneously, CC license does not depend on legislative actions where enables users to open their license and access voluntarily by themselves(Garcelon, 2009). One of the versions of the license is a “human-readable”, that Casey claims as to the most crucial innovation, states:

This acts as a clear summary of the license terms that states what a user is free to do with the work and the conditions they must obey if they do make use of it.

Accordingly, both creators and consumers may apply for this license agilely without legal restrictions, in which greatly conforms the contemporary situations and frees people from a stereotype of protecting copyright using laws. Besides, the self-controlled license has been utilized in companies and organizations, and citizens also noticed the advantages of CC license in an online environment. The application of the license among companies and individual brings positive effect, where connects the former creating works and present works, making it convenient for license management(Hagedorn, 2011).

The usage of CC license on the internet not only reduces the political issues when searching for resources and reuse them, but also definitely improves cultural communication. By easily accessing diverse resources online, people would broaden their horizons and experience differences in creative works, therefore spreading and comprehending other cultures on social media.

Image: laptop, hand, write, internet, network, social, social network, continents, globe, map of the world. Some rights reserved.

On the other hand, it is still controversial that CC license cannot protect certain rights from the root. As CC license has been put into use online and allows people to adjust their rights flexibly, it is difficult to recognize the “real” owner. While millions of works with CC license are uploaded in networking sites, the sharing and participatory culture on the internet fuzz users’ judgements up as other users could also apply for CC license even though the work was applied by original owners before. NC(non-commercial) symbol is included in CC license to manage owners’ commercial purposes, yet sometimes the phenomenon of stealing works for sale still exist. To some extent, this new form of copyright maintaining method has some drawbacks to actual owners of creative resources.

Moreover, large companies monopolized the copyright market in earlier times, the arise of CC license act as a counterpoint that prevented further monopolies(Garcelon, 2009), which means large media corporations could no longer keep their economic sources by holding copyrights. Consequently, CC license affects the commercial rights of creators, and it fluctuates the income of big companies which gained large proportions of income based on copyright before.

Experience of the CC license

I feel it is easier for me to access different resources and put them into my studies. The CC-oriented approach, which people add their own thoughts and create a derivative work without violating owners’ copyright(Liu,, 2013) would be surely useful for my studies. This is to say, the range for me to select resources has broadened online. In this case, I cannot imagine if everything is under the legislation that I can only access a few of them. What’s more, CC license encourages collaborated learning(Liu,, 2013), which is a pretty important skill in university life as there are plenty of group projects for me to deal with. Overall, the CC license could help with my studies by providing a broader range of resources.


The emerge of Creative Commons license is beneficial to social and cultural communications, combining cultures together as well as communications among world citizens. Ordinary online users, therefore, seem to be favoured as they could access resources flexibly and avoid being tied with politics or laws. Unlike previous periods, big corporations lost their monopoly of the copyright industry. Nonetheless, owners of copyright might be offended as CC license cannot ensure everyone follows the rule, and potential right issues like plagiarism, ignoring license and using with a commercial aim still exist in social media. Hence, CC license is innovative enough to improve people’s rights, but it still requires modification to completely protect copyrights.




Araya, E., & Araya, E. (2011). Creative commons: A convergence model between the ideal of commons and the possibilities of creation in contemporary times, opposed to copyright impediments. Information Services & Use, 31(3-4), 101–109. DOI: 10.3233/ISU-2012-0639

Bailey, J. (2017). Why I am backing away from Creative Commons. Retrieved from:

Casey, J. (2012). Creative Commons licenses : are they right for you? Art Libraries Journal, 37(2), 32–37. DOI: 10.1017/S0307472200017442

Process Arts&Creative Commons Aotearo New Zealand(2011). Creative Commons licences explained.

Garcelon, M. (2009). An information commons? Creative Commons and public access to cultural creations. New Media & Society, 11(8), 1307–1326. DOI: 10.1177/1461444809343081

Hagedorn, G., Mietchen, D., Morris, R., Agosti, D., Penev, L., Berendsohn, W., Hobern, D., & Hagedorn, G. (2011). Creative Commons licenses and the non-commercial condition: Implications for the re-use of biodiversity information. ZooKeys, 150(150), 127–149. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.150.2189

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

Liu, C., Tao, S., Chen, W., Chen, S., & Liu, B. (2013). The effects of a Creative Commons approach on collaborative learning. Behaviour & Information Technology, 32(1), 37–51. DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2011.572184

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