Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright licenses, known as Creative Commons licenses, free of charge to the public. These licenses allow authors of creative works to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy-to-understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons license. Content owners still maintain their copyright, but Creative Commons licenses give standard releases that replace the individual negotiations for specific rights between copyright owner (licensor) and licensee, that are necessary under an "all rights reserved" copyright management.
The organization was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred with the support of Center for the Public Domain. The first article in a general interest publication about Creative Commons, written by Hal Plotkin, was published in February 2002. The first set of copyright licenses was released in December 2002. The founding management team that developed the licenses and built the Creative Commons infrastructure as it is known today included Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Glenn Otis Brown, Neeru Paharia, and Ben Adida.In 2002, the Open Content Project, a 1998 precursor project by David A. Wiley, announced the Creative Commons as successor project and Wiley joined as CC director. Aaron Swartz played a role in the early stages of Creative Commons, as did Matthew Haughey.As of 2019, there were "nearly 2 billion" works licensed under the various Creative Commons licenses. Wikipedia uses one of these licenses. As of May 2018, Flickr alone hosted over 415 million Creative Commons-licensed photos. Unsplash used the CC0 license prior to 2017. and Pixabay used the same prior to 2019. Other popular websites/services making use of Creative Commons include Stack Exchange, MDN, Internet Archive, Khan Academy, LibreTexts, MIT OpenCourseWare, WikiHow, OpenStreetMap, GeoGebra, Doubtnut, OpenStax and Arduino as well as music sites ccmixter.org and ninjam.
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