How does Creative Commons work?

Reading time: 3 mins

Talking about Creative Commons licenses is like rewinding time to remember the basic desire of the creator of the Internet, John Berners-Lee, who, 30 years ago, wanted his invention to offer equal access to information for all its users, blissfully unaware then that fake news and plagiarism would one day create rear their troublesome heads.  

Best known as the seal of Wikipedia’s open-source articles, CC licenses share John’s values – they frame files such that they are free from certain rights restrictions, making them accessible to all, so anyone can just use and enjoy them! Music, but also images, videos, and academic texts are among the types of files that can be licensed in this way.

In this article, we will look into the origins of the Creative Commons, and how they work. Are you ready? Let’s go!

What are the principles of the Creative Commons?

CC is a non-profit, free association. It was founded in 2001 by a dream team of lawyers and computer scientists led by Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford University, in the United States. Its goal was to make a set of licenses that were less restrictive than copyright available to any creator.  

The project was based on the principle that free sharing stimulates creativity and that, in any case, all artistic and academic disciplines draw inspiration from existing works and research – making use of existing creative works is an accepted part of the creative process.  

In concrete terms, when you use a CC license to frame the distribution of your music, you are giving anyone permission to download it for free, with a few subtleties that are explained later.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization developed by lawyers and computer scientists in 2001 in the US. It is a tool that allows you to download CC licenses whose purpose is to frame the distribution of any file in a more flexible way than the copyright or the author’s right. Its mission is to free creativity through the free sharing of all creative work and information between Internet users worldwide.

How does CC work?

It’s quite simple: you go to their website; you take the time to read their FAQ (even if we’ll clarify a lot of points here!) to reassure yourself and, guided by the questions on the site, you choose a CC license from among their range of options. You then submit the appropriate documents to prove that you are the owner of the music you wish to share, and download the license thus generated.  

There are six types of licenses, framed by four types of use, of which you may opt for up to three, according to your wishes:

  • Attribution BY: the basic formula, where you grant the right to download, copy, distribute or remix your audio file, provided the name of the track and its creator are named in the credits, or elsewhere.
  • Non Derivative (ND): OK for internet users to copy, distribute or reproduce the work, as long as they leave it intact, even if it’s just to use it as a soundtrack for a video or any derivative product. The form and use must remain the same.  
  • Share Alike (SA): here we enter the peer-to-peer game. The owner of the file can distribute it as is or transformed, provided that he uses an SA license as well.  
  • Non-Commercial (NC): again, it’s OK to copy, distribute or reproduce the work, but in a non-commercial context – which excludes monetized YouTube videos or ads.  

Once you have your CC license, you can distribute your file via the platforms of your choice, such as your personal blog or Jamendo Music, which offers Creative Commons-labeled tracks for listening and downloading.

Just go to CreativeCommons.com to create a license that suits you by combining one to three types of use from among the four that are available. Each type meets a different threshold of protection for your file – the most flexible being BY, where you simply require that anyone who makes use of your music credits you, and the strictest being NC, where you authorize everything as long as the user does not seek to commercialize his use of your sound.

If you want to know more and exchange with other artists who have been there, don't hesitate to join our Discord server or to contact our team on hello@bridgermusic.io!

What do I need to remember?

The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization developed by lawyers and computer scientists in 2001 in the US. It is a tool that allows you to download CC licenses whose aim is to frame the distribution of any file in a more flexible way than copyright allows. Each type of license responds to a different threshold of protection for your file, the most flexible being BY, where you simply require that anyone who makes use of your music credits you, and the strictest being NC, where you authorize everything on condition that the user does not commercialize his use of your sound.

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