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Original Creative Commons image via Kristina Alexander’s Flickrstream (Licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Most people who regularly use or create images, videos or music available online are familiar with Creative Commons, the California-based nonprofit organization that provides licensing options for building on, sharing or just keeping control over a user’s creative works. Creative Commons recently announced Version 4.0 of their licenses, which enables more anonymity, international translation options, and opportunities to regain rights if they’ve been inadvertently violated.

In Version 4.0, anyone who inadvertently violates a license can have their rights reinstated if the problem is corrected within 30 days. This option was not available in Version 3.0, which did not offer an opportunity to reinstate. In the new version, however, don’t expect to be completely off the hook for damages to copyright infringement during periods of non-compliance. The new version also now covers sui generis database rights that exist in the European Union, and in governments and publishers of public sector information.

Over time, the 4.0 license will become more global as Creative Commons introduces more official translations of the licenses. This will avoid possible misuse due to issues that were perhaps lost in translation. Users who want to stay with older versions may do so; in order to have licensing under 4.0, users must update on their own.

Another high point, and arguably the most important one, is that the license is not completely written in lawyer jargon, as PC World New Zealand reports:

“In the new version the license text is completely restructured and rewritten in such a way that it is readable for people who are not lawyers,” said Lisette Kalshoven, advisor for copyright and heritage at the Dutch organization Kennisland (Knowledgeland) …

Creative Commons first launched Version 1.0 in 2002 with a commitment to “promoting the creative reuse of intellectual works” through the use of machine-readable copyright licenses available free of charge. Version 2.0 appeared in 2004 after feedback from the public, and it aimed to clarify attribution types, synch rights, and music-specific rights. Since then, Creative Commons has been working to further clarify attribution language; it launched 3.0 in an effort to improve the clarity of licensing types. As with previous versions, Version 4.0 is  available to the public free of charge.

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Alicia Eler

Alicia Eler is a cultural critic and arts reporter. She is the author of the book The Selfie Generation (Skyhorse Publishing), which has been reviewed in the New York Times, WIRED...