What are the differences between the Creative Commons 2.5 and 3.0 suites of licences? (20 April 2011)

The differences between the 2.5 and 3.0 suites of Creative Commons licences are summarised below, using the ‘unported’ (international) version as examples:

  • While attribution is required in all the licences post version 1.0, version 3.0 is the first version to incorporate a no endorsement clause which expressly provides that in providing credit the licensee may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the licensor.

  • A moral rights clause is included in the version 3.0 licences which specifically instructs users that they ‘must not distort, mutilate, modify or take other derogatory action in relation to the Work which would be prejudicial to the Original Author’s honor or reputation.’  This provision forbids licensees from making uses that would otherwise violate the authors’ moral rights of integrity.

  • Those licences that permit the creation of adaptations require licensees to take reasonable steps to label the work as such.  For instance, the adaptation could include a notice to the effect that ‘The original work has been modified.’

  • A more extensive definition of ‘Work’ is included in the version 3.0 licences which expressly includes a compilation of data to the extent it is protected as a copyrightable work.

  • In the version 3.0 Attribution-ShareAlike licence adaptations of Works licensed under its terms may be licensed under a ‘Creative Commons Compatible License” which is defined to mean licenses approved by CC as essentially equivalent to the 3.0 Attribution-ShareAlike licence.

  • In the version 3.0 suite of licences database rights are waived for uses that do not implicate copyright.

  • In the version 2.5 licences the provisions relating to waiver of royalties make reference to US legislation and are specifically limited to musical compositions or sound recordings.  There is no such limitation in the version 3.0 licence suite which provides an exclusive right of the licensee to collect royalties from the licensee in jurisdictions where royalties are collected through a non-waivable compulsory licence scheme.  In jurisdictions where royalties are collected through a waivable compulsory licence scheme or voluntary licence scheme the licensor waives the right to collect royalties from the licensee.

In summary, there is a marginal improvement made by the 3.0 suite of licences in terms of clarity and ‘loose ends’.  However, for most purposes the application of either 2.5 or 3.0 will achieve the same result (much more important will be the choice of the particular licence e.g. CC0, CC BY, CC BY NC etc).  Where jurisdiction is more significant factor, the latest version of that jurisdiction’s CC licences is likely to be the choice (e.g. if licensing material on English history to a largely English audience, using CC 2.5 England & Wales might be the most suitable choice), whereas if jurisdiction isn’t so well defined, going for the most recent version is likely to be most appropriate (e.g. CC 3.0 Unported).

As an example, JISC Legal has recently started using CC 3.0 Unported, in the absence of a modern UK wide CC licence at the moment, but will change to CC 3.0 UK when it (eventually) comes available.  In the meantime, we are making sure the licensing of third party materials allows us to make this change when it happens.


Posted on 20/04/2011

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