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2015-12-24 09:30

Free licence – not so free. How should we use online resources?

Paulina Ciesielska, prawnik firmy Gemius

For many internet users, the term Creative Commons means freedom of use of the designated tracks. But using online resources is not that simple. What do we need to know about licence designations? By Paulina Ciesielska, expert from the legal department at Gemius.

Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organisation which was founded in 2001. Its main goal was to address copyright limitations and attempt to reconcile the interests of artists with enthusiasts of their work. The clear designation of tracks was intended to lead to the dissemination of knowledge and the sharing of songs on the basis defined by the artist.

For many people, Creative Commons means free licence, i.e. the possibility of using certain tracks freely, without any restrictions. But that's not correct. As mentioned, CC is an attempt to reconcile the interests of the artist and the consumer. Thus, the essential feature of CC is that certain rights are reserved. Firstly, each track made available with a CC licence must contain a clear indication of who created it. Secondly, there are six types of licences, each of which outlines certain rights and obligations. Let's look at each of the designations and explain how to comply with the principles.

CC BY: creator attribution

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. They can be developed and adapted. The only caveat is that when a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. Moreover, these tracks can be used for commercial purposes.

CC BY-SA: creator attribution and publication on the same basis

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. They can be developed and adapted. When a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. In addition, there is the designation SA – this indicates Copyleft, a mechanism based on the fact that, in creating derivative works, we have to share them under the same licence used for the original track. Moreover, these tracks can be used for commercial purposes.

CC BY-NC: creator attribution, non-commercial use

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. Adaptations can be made. When a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. In addition, there is the designation NC, which indicates that the track cannot be used for commercial purposes, i.e. it can't be sold.

CC BY-ND: creator attribution, no creation of derivative tracks

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. When a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. In addition, there is the designation ND – the track cannot be rewritten or translated, i.e. derivative tracks cannot be created.

CC BY-NC-SA: creator attribution, non-commercial use, publication on the same basis

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. They can be developed and adapted. When a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. In addition, there is the designation NC, which indicates that the track cannot be used for commercial purposes, i.e. it can't be sold. The designation SA refers to Copyleft. Derivative tracks must be shared with the same licence used for the original.

CC BY-NC-ND: creator attribution, non-commercial use, no derivative tracks

Songs with this designation can be freely copied, modified and distributed. When a particular track is used, the creator should be acknowledged and information should be provided on the source of the licence and the track itself. In addition, there is the designation NC, which indicates that the track can only be used non-commercially. ND means that derivative tracks can't be created, e.g., the translation of works is not allowed.

In summary, all CC licences allow for geographically and temporally unlimited free usage. However, most importantly, not all CC licences are free. Only the licences designated CC-BY and CC-BY-SA are free.

It is very important to remember the obligation to designate a track (or derivative track) in accordance with the above principles. When using a track with a CC licence, we are obliged to provide information about the particular licence. For example: Creative Commons – creator attribution (designation CC BY), and the version, e.g. 4.0. This is very important information – CC is constantly developing and new licence versions are constantly emerging. They are not only tailored to US law, but also aim to be compatible with the laws of other countries. It should be noted that it is not enough to provide the information that a track was made available under Creative Commons – the consumer won't be able to tell which of the six licences and which rules apply to them.

Employing the above principles, we can freely benefit from the large range of possibilities offered by Creative Commons licences. However, when using online resources, we should always respect the licence and the copyright of the creators.

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Author:

Paulina Ciesielska

prawnik firmy Gemius

Junior Lawyer w dziale prawnym firmy Gemius, z którą związana jest od 4 lat. Specjalizuje się w prawie handlowym oraz prawie własności intelektualnej. Wspiera wiedzą i doświadczeniem firmę zarówno na rynku polskim, jak i na jej 17 rynkach zagranicznych. Zajmuje się  tworzeniem struktur formalno-prawnych w innych krajach oraz rejestracją podmiotów zagranicznych.

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