Copyright law has been protecting the rights of writers, filmmakers, and creators since even before the birth of the US. For years, copyright holders have had all rights reserved on any original work that they created, which means they had the ability to charge money and license their original work to others without fear of anyone stealing or copying their work.
However, the new millenium has brought with it the age of sharing–we share statuses on Facebook, we share photos on Instagram, and we can even share videos on YouTube. To some, our old copyright laws seemed restrictive in the dawn of this new era. So in 2001, a group of people created a set of new copyright laws that actually encouraged creators to share their work with others. And thus was born Creative Commons.
Creative Commons is a US non-profit organization that helps creators legally share their knowledge and creativity with others. They provide free, easy-to-use copyright licenses for creators that are standardized to give the public permission to use and share their work on the conditions of their choice, or some rights reserved. The Creative Commons licenses are recognized all around the world and over 1.1 billion works have been shared under their licenses on platforms like YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, and more.
The various licenses allow users to share, copy, distribute, edit, remix, or build upon the original work depending on the permissions of the particular license. For example, one license allows work to be shared or used in almost any way, with the only requirement is attributing the original creator. A different license allows users to share, remix, or tweak the work non-commercially, as long as you credit the creator and also license the newly created work under that same license. The different types of licenses can be reviewed at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.
How does the Creative Commons affect filmmakers? It allows them to share their films with a much wider audience and still get proper credit. It also allows filmmakers to use Creative Commons music, images, and video clips in their own films. In the worlds of Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley, “Our work is to build a vibrant, usable commons, powered by collaboration and gratitude.” Learn more at www.creativecommons.org.
A version of this article originally appeared on the 48 Hour Film Project