Topic 5: Advantages and Disadvantages of Creative Commons

This video explains what Creative Commons is and the main points for how it works:


Fundamentally, it allows content producers of images, videos, music, text, source code etc. to make their work freely available in a way that is clear to other users and whether they themselves can use the content they find online.

The main points explained in the video are what Creative Commons is in comparison to traditional copyright systems.

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What the different components are and what the symbols mean.

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And the different types of licenses or combinations of components.

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There are a number of advantages to content producers making their materials available online through Creative Commons:

  • Creative Commons licences are simple from a legal point of view and provide a quick solution to the complexities of content licensing (Solon, 2011)
  • Creative Commons licenses are free to use, widely adopted and flexible(InfosmART, 2012)
  • You aren’t giving up your copyright, you are just making your work available for others to use and the licences have been written to be enforceable in court (Solon, 2011)
  • The licences are also available in three formats, including machine readable code, which can be processed by search engines meaning it’s easy to track the licence usage (Solon, 2011)
  • Works come with permissions pre-applied, so users do not have to request permissions to reuse individual works (InfosmART, 2012)
  • Images and text uses of CC-Licensed works can be used to generate inbound links and many SEO experts view Creative Commons as a great way to generate such links to your sites and profiles, which could lead to commercial opportunities (Plagarism Today, 2011; Solon, 2011; Richards, 2013)
  • It allows for easy knowledge sharing in the worlds of education, charity work, and science. Sharing data in these fields can bring down costs and be beneficial for humanity (Solon, 2011; Richards, 2013)



However, there are also a number of disadvantages to content producers using Creative Commons:

  • Creative Commons is not appropriate for work from which you intend to gain commercially, either now or in the future (InfosmART, 2012)
  • You have no control over who will reuse your work, other than through the license terms you choose to exercise (InfosmART, 2012; Richards, 2013)
  • Licenses are non-revocable – you cannot withdraw copies of work released under Creative Commons at a later date (InfosmART, 2012; Solon, 2011; Richards, 2013)
  • Duplicate content, usually text, is more likely to be ignored by search engines and so could harm SEO (Plagarism Today, 2011)
  • Although they are written simply and there are only six of them to choose from, some users see Creative Commons licensing and immediately assume that they have a free reign to share and edit the works as long as they attribute it correctly. For the stricter licenses, this is not the case and it can be hard to police (Solon, 2011; Richards, 2013)
  • The majority of today’s Creative Commons licensed works are only available online, making them irrelevant in places where fast internet access is absent or too expensive (Solon, 2011)
  • Since you can only apply Creative Commons licences to new, original works, the vast majority of existing creative works are copyrighted and will remain so for decades (Solon, 2011)



To conclude, content creators have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of making their content freely available online through Creative Commons and decide what is important to them based on their own situation. It is important they think carefully before licensing their work because as argued above, once licensed under Creative Commons works cannot be withdrawn.



Creative Commons. (n.d.). About. Retrieved May 2016, from Creative Commons:

Creative Commons Australia. (2014, March 25). What are the benefits of offering and using creative commons licences? . Retrieved May 2016, from Creative Commons Australia:

InfosmART. (2012, April). Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved May 2016, from InfosmART:

Plagarism Today. (2011, September 22). The SEO Benefits and Drawbacks of Creative Commons. Retrieved from Plagarism Today:

Richards, S. (2013, April 4). Creative Commons Licenses: Advantages and Drawbacks. Retrieved May 2016, from LONGZIJUN:

Solon, O. (2011, December 13). Creative Commons 101: An introduction to CC licences. Retrieved May 2016, from Wired:

Ultimate YouTube Resource. (2013, November 25). What Is Creative Commons? [VIDEO]. Retrieved May 2016, from YouTube:


Image: Public Domain


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Ellie, your post provides an excellent compact overview of properties, advantages and disadvantages of Creative Commons licence, all in one place. It is a good starting point for someone who wants to learn more about CC and weight its pros and cons but does not really have time to do extensive reading. You presented a balanced view that can help someone to form an opinion about usefulness of CC. You rightly noticed that the majority of work licenced under CC are new creations only available online and older works remain protected by copyright. Therefore, despite growing CC resources, access to free works does not grow proportionally as it is restricted by digital divide.

    CC seems to be more willingly used for some creative works rather than others. Software programming is one of those often covered by open licences, discussed by Tom in his post. Based on your research on CC, would you say that it is an appropriate licence for making software freely available?


    1. Hi Agnieszka, thanks for your insightful comment! With regards to your question, I think that CC can be appropriate for software programming provided it does not include the ‘no derivatives’ condition as derivatives are the foundation of open code and ideally, but not required, it includes the share-a-like condition allowing people to use the derived work. In practice, I have seen CC often used for HTML and CSS code and it is both useful and appropriate here. With other languages and other types of programmes, it may be less appropriate especially for programmes that are not hosted on the web. For these I think other types of open licenses or perhaps a public domain license may be more appropriate.


      1. Hi Ellie, thanks for your reply! I was particularly interested in how CC may fit into computer programming as I think the availability of open source code drives the development of software. As I learned from Tom’s post, there is a number of different licenses available for a software programmer (you probably know that but I was not aware that there are so many).


  2. Clayton says:

    This is a great post Ellie, that perfectly describes and explains everything there you need to know to understand what Creative Commons is all about.

    I think CC is a fantastic initiative that allows people to share their content, without forgoing their rights as a content producer.

    I was unaware that once something was made CC, it was not possible to revert this.

    Do you think that CC is overall a good thing?


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