The default copyright status for creative works is "all rights reserved", often represented by the symbol: ©. Under this type of license, the creator holds exclusive rights over their works, which include the rights to use, copy, distribute, and modify the work. Without explicit permission from the copyright holder, others are prohibited from engaging in these activities.
Copyright licenses can be customized by the copyright owner to be less restrictive, clearly defining what is allowed and what is not. This can be achieved through a simple text statement or by utilizing website-specific licenses (e.g. unsplash.com). However, to ensure consistency and ease of recognition, the Creative Commons licenses have emerged as the most widely adopted method for denoting less restrictive licensing terms. Creative Commons licenses provide a standardized framework that allows creators to communicate their desired permissions and restrictions effectively, promoting the sharing and collaborative use of creative works.
Creative Commons licenses consist of a combination of four different elements, each represented by a specific icon:
Attribution (BY): This element requires that proper credit is given to the original creator of the work when it is used or shared.
ShareAlike (SA): This element stipulates that any derivative works created from the original must be shared under the same license terms as the original work.
NonCommercial (NC): This element restricts the use of the work to non-commercial purposes only, barring commercial exploitation without explicit permission.
NoDerivatives (ND): This element prohibits the creation of derivative works, meaning the original work cannot be modified or transformed.
Creators can choose from various combinations of these elements to create a Creative Commons license that best aligns with their intentions. For example, a popular license is the "Creative Commons Attribution" (CC BY) license, which permits others to use, share, and modify the work, as long as attribution is given to the original creator.
If the creator chooses to waive all their copyrights, the CC0 (CC-Zero) license applies. Under CC0, the creator grants unconditional permission to anyone to use, share, modify, and adapt the work for any purpose, including commercial purposes, without requiring attribution or seeking further permission. It is a straightforward and permissive license option that maximizes the freedom for others to use and build upon the work. By using the CC0 license, creators essentially offer their works to the public domain, allowing others to freely use and derive value from the content without being encumbered by copyright restrictions.
Other reasons why a work is public domain include:
- Expired Copyright: Copyright protection has a limited duration, which varies by jurisdiction and the type of work. Once the copyright term expires, the work enters the public domain. This means that anyone can use the work without infringing on copyright.
The duration of copyright varies depending on the country and the type of work. In general, copyright protection lasts for a specific period of time from the moment a work is created or published. Here are some general guidelines regarding copyright expiration in several jurisdictions: In most EU countries, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. However, there are some variations among individual countries within the EU.
- Lack of Eligibility: Some works are ineligible for copyright protection, such as facts, ideas, government documents, and works created by the U.S. federal government. These works are automatically part of the public domain.
On the European Open Platform for Prescribing Education (EurOP2E), all materials can at the very least be reused, revised and redistributed. Some materials may be public domain (CC-0), others may require attribution (CC-BY) and/or forbid commercial use (CC-NC), but you will not find materials with NoDerivatives licenses or stricter on this platform.