Creative Commons is both an organization, and a movement in response to expansive copyright protection. Using Creative Commons Licenses, artists and creators can proactively make their work available for public use, under specific conditions.
Creative Commons is not an alternative to copyright - it's just an option of a different way to share works, and it fundamentally relies on copyright - you must own a copyright in a work in order to make it available under a Creative Commons license.
Creators Control Sharing
Creative Commons Licenses allow creators to make their works available for use - and they allow creators to put conditions on those uses. One great advantage of Creative Commons licenses for creators is that they can cut down on administrative overhead for frequent approved uses of your materials. The copyright sections of this website, for example, are already available for non-commercial re-use (with attribution) - so if another University would like to use this material on their website, they don't even have to ask!
Users Get Certainty
Even in the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to be sure that a given use is acceptable under fair use or other formal copyright exemptions or limitations. Creative Commons licenses give much more certainty to your uses - if you meet the conditions of the license, your use is pre-approved.
Most of the illustrations on this website are used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC by-nc) or Attribution (CC by) license. We don't have to consider permission requests, or payment, or even have to think about fair use - we just know our use is okay!
This web site presents information about copyright law. The University Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.