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The Creative Commons licenses were pre-dated by the Open Publication License (OPL) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The GFDL was intended mainly as a license for software documentation, but is also in active use by non-software projects such as Wikipedia. The OPL is now largely defunct, and its creator suggests that new projects not use it. Both the OPL and the GFDL contained optional parts that, in the opinions of critics, made them less "free". The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent", i.e., not in a proprietary and/or confidential format.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Creative Commons was officially launched in 2001. Lawrence Lessig, the founder and chairman, started the organization as an additional method of achieving the goals of his Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft. The initial set of Creative Commons licenses was published on December 16, 2002.  The project itself was honored in 2004 with the Golden Nica Award at the Prix Ars Electronica, for the category "Net Vision".
The non-localized Creative Commons licenses were written with the U.S. legal system in mind, so the wording may not mesh perfectly with existing law in other countries. Although somewhat unlikely, using the U.S. model without regard to local law could render the licenses unenforceable. To address this issue, the iCommons (International Commons) project intends to fine-tune the Creative Commons legal wording to the specifics of individual countries. As of November 30, 2005, representatives from 46 countries and regions have joined this initiative, and licenses for 26 of those countries have already been completed.
Projects using Creative Commons licenses
Several million pages of web content use Creative Commons licenses. Common Content was set up by Jeff Kramer with cooperation from Creative Commons, and is currently maintained by volunteers.
Some of the best-known CC-licensed projects and works include:
- Media archives (for a subset of works where the uploader chooses a Creative Commons license): Flickr, Internet Archive, Wikimedia Commons, and Ourmedia
- MIT OpenCourseWare - academic course syllabi
- Jamendo - Music archive
- Public Library of Science
- Star Wreck movies, the most recent being Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning
- The podcast This Week in Tech
- Wikinews, Wikitravel, Memory Alpha, Uncyclopedia, and many other wikis
- ccMixter, a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons
- GarageBand.com, music site for exposure for unsigned bands
- Professor Lessig's 2004 electronic version of the book Free Culture. (The printed version of the book, however, was published under a full copyright.)
- Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks:How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
- Dan Gillmor's We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
- The fiction of Cory Doctorow
- Three of Eric S. Raymond's books: The Cathedral and the Bazaar (the first complete and commercially released book under a CC license, published by O'Reilly & Associates), The New Hacker's Dictionary and The Art of Unix Programming (all three with added proviso)
- Teach, a 2001 short film directed by Davis Guggenheim.
- Cactuses, a 2006 full-length dramatic movie.
- Elephant's Dream, a 2006 CG short film created with open-source software
- LOCA Records
- Fading Ways Music
- Kahvi Collective
- Small Brain Records
- Krayola Records
Tools for discovering CC-licensed content
- iRATE radio
- Yahoo! Creative Commons Search
- Google Advanced Search
- CC:Mixter - A Creative Commons Remix community site.
- Common Content
- Jamendo - An archive of music albums under Creative Commons licenses
- The Assayer - A catalog of free/copylefted books
- Flickr Creative Commons search - Photos on Flickr
- Creative Commons Find Page
- Open Clip Art Library
- everystockphoto.com - Search engine and member bookmarking for Creative Commons Photos
- The Internet Archive - Project dedicated to maintaining an archive of multimedia resources, among which Creative Commons-licensed content
- Ourmedia - Media archive supported by the Internet Archive
Criticisms of Creative Commons
During its first year as an organization, Creative Commons experienced a "honeymoon" period with worldwide success and very little criticism. Recently though, critical attention has focused on the Creative Commons movement and how well it is living up to its perceived values and goals. The critical positions taken can be roughly divided up into complaints of a lack of:
- An ethical position - Those in these camps criticize the Creative Commons for failing to set a minimum standard for its licenses, or for not having an ethical position to base its licenses. These camps argue that Creative Commons should follow the model of the Free (libre) or Open Source movements by defining a set of core freedoms or terms which all CC licensed works must satisify. These terms might, or might not, be the same core freedoms as the heart of the free software movement. (e.g. See Hill 2005 and the writings of Richard Stallman).
- A political position - Where the object is to critically analyse the foundations of the Creative Commons movement and offer an immanent critique (e.g. Berry & Moss 2005, Geert Lovink, Free Culture movements).
- A common sense position - These usually fall into the category of "it is not needed" or "it takes away user rights" (see Toth 2005 or Dvorak 2005).
- A pro-copyright position - These are usually marshalled by the content industry and argue either that Creative Commons is not useful, or that it undermines copyright (Nimmer 2005).
Creative Commons in Court
In early 2006, Adam Curry sued a Dutch tabloid who published photos, without permission, from his Flickr page, which was protected under a Creative Commons license. While the verdict was in favour of Curry, the tabloid avoided having to pay restitution to Mr. Curry so long as they did not repeat the offence. An analysis of the decision states, "The Dutch Court’s decision is especially noteworthy because it confirms that the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content licensed under it, and bind users of such content even without expressly agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license." 
- List of works available under a Creative Commons License
- Creative Commons License
- Science Commons
- Template:NoteTemplate:Cite web
- Template:NoteTemplate:Cite book
- Template:NoteTemplate:Cite journal
- Template:NoteTemplate:Cite web
- Ardito, Stephanie C. "Public-Domain Advocacy Flourishes." Information Today 20, no. 7 (2003): 17,19.
- Asschenfeldt, Christiane. "Copyright and Licensing Issues—The International Commons." In CERN Workshop Series on Innovations in Scholarly Communication: Implementing the Benefits of OAI (OAI3), 12 February-14 February 2004 at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva: CERN, 2004. http://agenda.cern.ch/askArchive.php?base=agenda&categ=a035925&id=a035925s5t6/ video
- Brown, Glenn Otis. "Academic Digital Rights: A Walk on the Creative Commons." Syllabus Magazine (April 2003). http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7475
- ———. "Out of the Way: How the Next Copyright Revolution Can Help the Next Scientific Revolution." PLoS Biology 1, no. 1 (2003): 30-31. http://www.plosbiology.org/plosonline/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0000009
- Chillingworth, Mark. "Creative Commons Attracts BBC's Attention." Information World Review, 11 June 2004. http://www.iwr.co.uk/iwreview/1155821/
- Conhaim, Wallys W. "Creative Commons Nurtures the Public Domain." Information Today 19, no. 7 (2002): 52, 54. http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb020603-2.htm
- "Delivering Classics Resources with TEI-XML, Open Source, and Creative Commons Licenses." Cover Pages, 28 April 2004. http://xml.coverpages.org/ni2004-04-28-a.html
- Denison, D.C. "For Creators, An Argument for Alienable Rights." Boston Globe, 22 December 2002, E2.
- Ermert, Monika. "Germany Debuts Creative Commons." The Register, 15 June 2004. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/15/german_creative_commons/
- Fitzgerald, Brian, and Ian Oi. "Free Culture: Cultivating the Creative Commons." (2004). http://eprints.qut.edu.au/archive/00000122/
- Johnstone, Sally M. "Sharing Educational Materials Without Losing Rights." Change 35, no. 6 (2003): 49-51.
- Lessig, Lawrence. "The Creative Commons" (1994) vol.55 Florida Law Review 763.
- Plotkin, Hal. "All Hail Creative Commons: Stanford Professor and Author Lawrence Lessig Plans a Legal Insurrection." SFGate.com, 11 February 2002. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2002/02/11/creatcom.DTL
- Schloman, Barbara F. "Creative Commons: An Opportunity to Extend the Public Domain." Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 13 October 2003. http://www.nursingworld.org/ojin/infocol/info_12.htm
- Stix, Gary. "Some Rights Reserved." Scientific American 288, no. 3 (2003): 46. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=7&articleID=000C2691-4F88-1E40-89E0809EC588EEDF
- Weitzman, Jonathan B., and Lawrence Lessig. "Open Access and Creative Common Sense." Open Access Now, 10 May 2004. http://www.biomedcentral.com/openaccess/archive/?page=features&issue=16
- Creative Commons
- A short Flash animation describing Creative Commons
- International Commons: Creative Commons initiatives outside the United States
- ccPublisher -(a tool to tag files with a Creative Commons license and upload them to the Internet Archive)
- "The Commons: The Commons as an Idea - Ideas as a Commons" -(article by David M. Berry about the commons and ideas)
- "BBC to Open Content Floodgates The BBC's Creative Archive project" -(article in Wired magazine on the BBC's use of Creative Commons licenses)
- "Creative Commons: Let’s be creative together" -(from "Framasoft")
- Remix Group on Flickr -(imaginative reuses of Creative Commons images)
- Creative Commons Search from Yahoo
- "Take My Music ... Please" -(a Newsweek article about Creative Commons by Brian Braiker)
- rel-license -(a kind of microformat used to indicate that a hyperlink to a license means the document is available under that license)
- "Creative Commons Humbug" -(critical article in PC Magazine by John C. Dvorak)
- "Creative Humbug" -(critical article by Péter Benjamin Tóth)
- "Creative Humbug? Bah the humbug, let’s get creative!" -(response to Tóth's criticism by Mia Garlick)
- "CC365: Creative Commons Song-a-day calendar" The Song-a-day calendar of Creative Commons Music
- Plugin for Mozilla Firefox -(displays Creative Commons attributes in the status bar)
- Free the Sounds - A website for sharing and collaborating on sounds, loops, songs, samples, etc. licensed under a Creative Commons license.
- Berry, D. M. & Moss, G. (2005). On the “Creative Commons”: a critique of the commons without commonalty. Free Software Magazine. No. 5.
- Berry, D. M & Moss, G. (2005). Libre Commons = Libre Culture + Radical Democracy. Noema. No. 44.
- Fitzgerald, Michael (2005), Copyleft hits a Snag. Technology Review
- Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2005). Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative Commons and the Free Software Movement.
- Libre Society website
- Nimmer, Raymond (2005). Open source license proliferation, a broader view
- Orlowski, Andrew (2005). On Creativity, Computers and Copyright. The Register.
- Tóth, Péter Benjamin. (2005). Creative Humbug: Personal feelings about the Creative Commons licenses
- Links to numerous OpenBusiness ideas - business ideas which use Open content licenses
- Richard Stallman explains his disagreement with Creative Commons
- A Debian Developer gives his summary of problems discussed on the debian-legal mailing list (note that this comments on the outdated 2.0 versions of the licenses)
- "Why the BBS Documentary is Creative Commons" by Jason Scott
- "Richard Stallman on P2P" an interview by LinuxP2P Forumzh-min-nan:Creative Commons
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