Creative Commons releases version 4.0: Congratulations!

Yamashita Yohei – CC on Orange

Today, Creative Commons announced the release of version 4.0 of their license suite. CC drafted version 4.0 in order to create a more international, adoptable, and long-lasting license. As a long-time supporter and user of Creative Commons, Wikimedia congratulates CC on the release. We think it gives the open culture movement improved legal tools, and hope that it will increase sharing and remixing.

This new license is the result of a two year process that began at CC’s Global Summit in 2011 and was first announced online late that year. Because the Wikimedia projects use version 3.0 of the license, many Wikimedians, including the Wikimedia Foundation’s legal team and various Wikimedia chapters, have participated in the drafting process. Many other creators of open cultural works have also participated, so we expect a healthy uptake of the new license in the months and years to come, building on the widespread adoption of previous versions of the license.

From the perspective of the Wikimedia projects, the biggest changes to version 4.0 include:

  • Easier to understand: 4.0 has twenty percent fewer words than 3.0, and is more clear and readable in a variety of ways. Perhaps most importantly, the language of the license is better organized, making it more clear what conditions apply when reproducing and sharing licensed content.
  • Clearer attribution: Attribution requirements in the license are easier to understand. It also makes explicit that Wikimedia’s existing attribution practices are compatible with the license.
  • Global operation: A key goal for 4.0 was to help the licenses “operate globally, ensuring they are robust, enforceable and easily adopted worldwide.” This includes drafting the licenses so that they can be translated without requiring legal changes for every jurisdiction. This will hopefully allow CC BY-SA 4.0 to be one license, available and enforceable in many languages, rather than a family of similar licenses with changes for different languages and jurisdictions.
  • Database rights: Perhaps the biggest substantive change in CC 4.0 is the extension of the license to create obligations related to the so-called “database rights” created by the European Union and some other jurisdictions. Understanding and evaluating the impact of these clauses will be extremely important, given the increasing importance of databases to Wikimedia through projects like Wikidata.

The creation and publication of the new licenses does not change the default licensing of the Wikimedia projects, nor what licenses are acceptable for contributions to the Wikimedia projects. Those changes will not happen until the Wikimedia community has evaluated and publicly discussed the new license, and (in the case of a change of default license) the Board of Trustees has formally approved a change to the Terms of Use. The Wikimedia Foundation’s legal team looks forward to participating in the community’s discussion about these issues and the licenses.

Luis Villa
Deputy General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

Categories: Legal, Licensing
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