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Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons
United States


Launched: 2001
Record Updated: Apr 18, 2024
Standard, specification, or protocol
Creative Commons (CC) provides and stewards CC licenses and public domain tools that give every person and organization in the world a free, simple, and standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative and academic works; ensure proper attribution; and enable others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works. From the reuser’s perspective, the presence of a CC license on a copyrighted work answers the question, "what can I do with this work?"

Community Engagement

Code of Conduct


Community Engagement


Contribution Guidelines or Fora


Organizational Commitment to Community Engagement

Dedicated Community Engagement Manager role, annual Global Summit for community members, periodic Community Conversations on emerging topics such as AI and Creative Commons, Community Spotlights on blog

User Contribution Pathways

  • Contribute funds
  • Contribute to code
  • Contribute to working groups or interest groups

Additional Information

Organizational History

Organizational Structure

Business or Ownership Model

Non-profit organization

Full-time Staff



Primary Funding Source


Funding Needs

Creative Commons needs foundations, corporations, and individuals to sustain our core operations and license infrastructure. This is a critical need. The CC Licenses and our CC0 public domain tool are core infrastructure for the open web and open access. They serve a global public interest with many well-known platforms, institutions, and individuals utilizing the CC Licenses to offer and access freely available knowledge.

Now more than ever, society needs open knowledge to have any chance at addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. We need open research and data to address the climate crisis; open images, audio, and reporting accessible to journalists confronting financial constraints and the challenges of “fake news;” freely available museum and library collections, because art and culture are often central to social change efforts; and open educational resources so K-12 schools, college students, and everyday learners can access affordable textbooks and other curriculum. Access to knowledge is key to a robust public commons and promoting an engaged citizenry; but in order to do this right, we need to have functional tools at the ready that real people can actually use.

Creative Commons’ legal tools are core open infrastructure, yet most people are unaware that the infrastructure behind the CC Licenses has had no underlying revenue stream to sustain regular maintenance or upgrades. Over the last 20 years, we’ve built up a “technical debt,” a backlog of work our small nonprofit organization hasn’t had the capacity to address. With proper funding, Creative Commons can resolve immediate technical shortcomings while establishing an agile and streamlined maintenance routine that will allow the CC Licenses to thrive and evolve with a rapidly changing digital landscape.