Creative Commons, the organization behind Creative Commons (CC) licensing, is a nonprofit that promotes the sharing of creativity, knowledge, culture and more. CC licenses are common on photos, visual art and written works online and are also found in education, medicine, science, music, government and philanthropy.

Recently, the Creative Commons team stepped back to survey the big picture. Over 10 years in, and with a new CEO at the helm, they looked at what the movement has accomplished so far and refocused the organization’s vision for the future. The resulting publication, The Future of the Creative Commons, lays out that vision including the following strategic priorities:

1. Steward the Global Commons – As it’s been doing for over a decade, Creative Commons will continue to promote the sharing of knowledge and cultural resources in the shared global commons. The organization will introduce CC version 4.0 licensing, launch and promote the School of Open to educate prospective users about copyright law and open licensing, and document and demonstrate the value of sharing materials.

2. Develop Innovative Products – As new technologies emerge and the needs of Commoners change, Creative Commons will help steer the creation and promotion of new legal and technical products and tools. Forthcoming tools include a framework to show users how their creations are being used and platforms to better connect authors and creators with reusers and remixers of their creations.

3. Strengthen the Affiliate Network – The Creative Commons has an international reach and the potential to stretch even further. One of the priorities of the organization is to invest in expanding and supporting the network of affiliates around the world. It will do this by fostering a culture of mentorship and mutual support, providing training materials, and supporting the development of new affiliate organizations.

4. Increase Platform Use – With platforms including YouTube and Flickr, the Creative Commons already has a foothold in popular culture. The organization is looking to extend the CC reach further into popular web communities. This will happen through fostering relationships with existing platforms, encouraging content creation in communities that use CC licenses, enhancing public awareness of the Creative Commons and its mission, and more.

5. Ensure Sustainability – To scale up, accomplish its priorities and evolve along with technological advancements, Creative Commons needs to ensure long-term sustainability. There’s a focus on developing a strong organizational and financial base in order to do so. This will be done with a team of passionate, knowledgeable people with diverse skills and deep expertise; engaged board members; transparency measures to further engage the community; and technological developments that are open and well-documented, to encourage input and collaboration. Funds will be raised through partnerships, sponsorships, fundraising projects and donations.

In providing the vision for the future of the Creative Commons, the report shines a light on just how much the organization has done to facilitate and promote sharing in the digital realm. But, for all that CC has accomplished, the organization is, according to its co-founder Lawrence Lessig, just getting started.

“Over the past decade, Creative Commons has become the standard internationally for sharing creative works,” he said in a statement. “But that’s just the beginning. The next ten years will be all about tapping the potential of the global community of Commoners to build a more open Internet and a freer world.”

Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and teacher helping community builders create strong brands. A longtime writer, marketing pro and coworking leader, Cat is the founder of Coworking Convos and