An inflexible copyright policy that prevents any type of disclosure could be anachronistic in the digital era. To realize the full potential of the Internet, encouraging a spreading creativity, many possibilities have been thought. Many of them have been just utopian, but one of these showed a revolutionary potential.
That’s the so called “Creative Commons”.
Launched in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and one of the leading experts of Copyright Law, this project achieved a large success and a wide application in the recent years.
Creative Commons licenses are not against copyright, instead they depend on the existence of copyright. These licenses are legal tools that creators and other rights holders can choose to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving some other rights.
Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Others who want to reserve all of their rights under copyright law wouldn’t choose to use it. Creative Commons licenses offer creators a wide spectrum of choices between keeping all rights and renouncing all rights (public domain), an approach that we call "Some Rights Reserved."
Creators can choose among different protection regimes. While some of them refrain commercial uses or the sharing of adaptations, others grant just a minimum protection consisting in the paternity right. The author doesn’t need any authorization or permission before licensing his work under CC, he just has to decide which conditions he wants to apply to his work. Accordingly, each work will be shared with a different disclaimer, an user friendly detailed tag.
Creative Commons is not an alternative to collecting societies, but a no-profit organization. Therefore all licenses can be use for free with any authorization requirements.
In Italy Creative Commons could be perceived as an obstacle as it could be interpreted as incompatible with the authority granted by the Italian Copyright Law of 1942 to SIAE, the legal monopolistic society for the management of copyright in Italy.
The recent Directive 2014/26/EU states, however, the principle that rights holders should be able to freely choose to entrust the protection of their works to the collective management bodies they consider most appropriate, also to independent management entities, regardless of the state of nationality. The Directive also grants the authors the right to divide the protection of their works between different collecting societies.
The new standards should promote the coexistence of the CC licenses with the traditional collecting societies, to create a more flexible and efficient system of protection.
This system thought by Lessig affirms a belief in copyright, because it is in essence a copyright license, but it also affirms the innate value of those digital environments where the rules of exchange are not necessarily defined by economic criteria.