23 Things for Archivists

Thing 12: Creative Commons

By Amy Schindler

Creative Commons licenses offer an alternative to full copyright. Creative Commons is a non-profit corporation that provides “free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.” These licenses are now commonly found on photo sharing sites, blogs (including this blog), theses, dissertations, and other published material (the institutional repositories at my university began offering a Creative Commons option last year as well).

  1. Read about Creative Commons (see also links in the Resources section below) and explore images available from repositories via The Commons on Flickr.
  2. If you have uploaded images to Flickr, go through the exercise of selecting Creative Commons licenses for your images (you can choose to not retain the CC license on your images, but just go through the basic steps here).
  3. Consider adding a Creative Commons license to your blog.

Blog Prompts

  • Would you consider Creative Commons license for material you personally create? Why or why not?
  • Discuss the benefits of the Flickr Commons to all archival repositories, including those who are not currently participating institutions.


Note: In 2010, Flickr stopped accepting new applications for Creative Commons licenses because they were so far behind on processing existing applications. Stay tuned to see what will happen in 2011. To read more about this, see Kate Theimer’s blog post on ArchivesNext: “Flickr not accepting new applications for the Commons through 2010.”

  1. […] (Twitter) Thing 9: URL Shorteners Thing 10: Photo Sharing (Flickr) Thing 11: Geotagging Thing 12: Creative Commons Thing 13: Image Generators/Mashups Thing 14: Facebook Apps Thing 15: Widgets […]

  2. […] Commons is not on the library list; it is Thing 12 on the archives list.  I’ve mentioned Creative Commons licensing on this blog before, in […]

  3. […] Not the flashiest Thing, but an important one nonetheless, Amy Schindler’s entry on Creative Commons discusses what this alternative to full copyright is and why Archivists should care about it. In short, Creative Commons is a show of good faith by a works creator towards people who want to use the work– the most common license is one that allows use of the work for non-commercial purposes only, and for derivative works so long as those derivatives are shared at the same level of permissions as the original. This licence is not exactly tailor-made for web 2.0 materials, but it is a superb option for same. (I would have liked some discussion of the distinction between self-generated content and content being made available from existing collections on sites such as Flickr. I bet Legal Affairs would have some words for us if we tried to license the Kwasniewski materials under CC, for example.) […]

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