Understanding how to reuse material

The availability of works under an open license has increased dramatically since the Creative Commons licenses were launched in 2002. As of today, there are around 2 billion works released under a Creative Commons license[1], and many more with other types of licenses (such as the GFDL)[2].

The reason why the Creative Commons licenses became so widespread it’s because they offer considerable flexibility to creators and users. Creative Commons licenses include six licenses and two public domain tools. Creative Commons are standardized tools. Each of the licenses and tools have three layers of legal language, user language, and machine readable code. This is what makes CC licenses such a powerful tool. They have been translated to many languages, so users can understand in their own language what they can and can’t do with a work that is licensed under a CC license.

However, it is not always easy to understand how to use works under a CC license, or how to license your own work. Additionally, CC licenses only cover the aspects of a work that are related to copyright. Any other right, such as personality or privacy rights, are not covered by the CC licenses. This means you need to examine the work you’re planning to incorporate in your storytelling or narrative to decide if you can use it.

To decide if you incorporate a particular work into your narrative, you need to first understand some important aspects of the licenses and your intended use.

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[1] Creative Commons annual report (2019), available here: https://creativecommons.org/2020/11/05/creative-commons-2019-annual-report/
[2] This tutorial will only work with CC-licensed material to avoid introducing more complexity.