Please note that Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand does not provide legal advice, so while this FAQ is designed to be helpful in raising awareness about the use of CC’s licences, it is by nature not a complete discussion nor a substitute for legal advice. It may not cover important issues that affect you and, depending on your situation, you may wish to consult with a lawyer.
Below is a long list of commonly asked questions about Creative Commons. There is also an official Creative Commons FAQ, which covers some issues not addressed here.
- CC in New Zealand
- The CC Licences
- About Copyright
- Applying an NZ CC Licence
- Using a CC Licensed Work
Creative Commons in New Zealand:
The Creative Commons project in New Zealand was initiated Te Whainga Aronui The Council for the Humanities, and is now administered by The Royal Society of New Zealand. Australia has its own CC project, and there are many others through the world.
- To maximise exposure and increase distribution
- To rely on innovative business models rather than fully fledged copyright to secure a return on your creative investment
- To contribute to and participate in the public sphere
- A set of free public licences sturdy enough to withstand a court’s scrutiny,
- Simple enough for non-lawyers to understand and use
- Yet sophisticated enough to be identified by various Web applications
The aim of the New Zealand licences is to offer a wide range of options, so artists can mix and match preferences from a menu of options:
- Attribution. Permit others to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and derivative works based upon it only if they give you credit.
- Noncommercial. Permit others to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and derivative works based upon it only for noncommercial purposes.
- No Derivative Works. Permit others to copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based upon it.
- Share Alike. Permit others to distribute derivative works only under a licence identical to the licence that governs your work.
Commons Deed. A simple, plain-language summary of the licence, complete with the relevant icons.
Legal Code. The fine print that you need to be sure the licence will stand up in court.
The Creative Commons Licences:
Why should I turn my work over to the public domain, or make it available under a Creative Commons Custom licence, if copyright provides more legal protection
Some people may be attracted by the notion of others building upon their work, or by the prospect of contributing to an intellectual commons. As the CC community grows, licensors will have the satisfaction of helping develop new ways to collaborate. Others may wish to encourage distribution of their creative work. Examples include:
- Scholars might want writings to be copied and shared to easily spread ideas.
- Designers can encourage the unfettered dissemination of sketches to build reputations.
- Established commercial musicians might post samples to whet the public’s appetite for other, fully protected songs.
- Political activists may want messages to reach the widest possible audience through unlimited copying.
CC licences can help implement such strategies, while leaving you in ultimate control of your copyright.
Yes, absolutely. The ‘noncommercial use’ condition applies only to others who use your work, not to you (the copyright holder). When other people use or trade or copy your work, they cannot do so for ‘monetary compensation or financial gain’, unless they get your permission.
One of CC’s central goals is to encourage people to experiment with new ways to promote and market their work. In fact, CC designed the noncommercial licence option to be a tool to help people make money from their work, by allowing them to maximise the distribution of their works while keeping control of the commercial aspects of their copyright.
Take this example: You license your photograph with a noncommercial licence and post it on your website. An editor at Spectacle, a for-profit magazine, comes across your photo and wants to use it for the next issue’s cover. Under the noncommercial term, the editor could copy your photograph and show it to her friends and co-workers, but she would have to strike a separate deal with you (for money, if you are smart) to use it for the magazine.
However, you need to be careful: once a copy of your work is out under a CC licence, you CANNOT STOP its further distribution for noncommercial purposes for free. This means that if you are to make money you have to find a way to do it while people can find copies of your work on the Internet for free.
I am registered with a royalty collection organisation. Does this mean that I cannot use Creative Commons to publish my work?
- their plain English language; easier to understand than the American legal language of the generic licences;
- because they follow national contract and copyright law, they offer explicit protection of your ‘moral rights’;
- the support offered by the New Zealand project;
- in the very unlikely event of any dispute over the terms of the licence, they provide that this should be heard in the courts of your own country.
Copyright is a system to promote the creation of, and access to artistic, literary, musical, dramatic and other creative productions. In principle, the creator, i.e. the author, maker or artist, etc. has the exclusive right to authorise or to prevent copying. In practice, the power to control copying more frequently devolves to publishers and distributors to whom the creators have assigned their rights. In New Zealand, it is regulated by statute; the main statute is the Copyright Act 1994 (referred to here as the Copyright Act for short).
The Copyright Act is usually presented as a balance between promoting the public interest by encouraging the dissemination of works of the arts and intellect, and obtaining a just reward for the copyright holder (or, more accurately, to prevent someone other than the holder from appropriating whatever benefits may be generated). For this reason, the exclusive rights of copyright holders, sometimes called monopoly rights, are subject to certain limitations in favour of public access for ‘fair dealing’, such as news reporting, research, criticism or private study, or for other purposes, such as archiving by an Archive.
The proper balance lies not only in recognising the copyright holder’s rights but in giving due weight to their limited nature. In crassly economic terms it would be as inefficient to overcompensate artists and authors for the right of reproduction as it would be self-defeating to undercompensate them. Excessive control by holders of copyrights and other forms of intellectual property may unduly limit the ability of the public domain to incorporate and embellish creative innovation in the long-term interests of society as a whole, or create practical obstacles to proper utilisation.
No, there are several requirements to claim copyright protection.
First, a work must fit into one of the categories of works in the Copyright Act, it must be: a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a sound recording, a film, a broadcast or cable programme, a typographical arrangement of a published edition or a derivative work (or adaptation) of any of these.
Second, the Copyright Act requires that most works must be recorded, in writing or some other tangible form, meaning that only the expression of an idea but not the idea itself can be protected by copyright. Simplified, this means, for example, the plot of a book in the writer’s head could not be protected by copyright, but the manuscript incorporating the plot could. The claim is not to ideas, but to the order of words, and this order has a marked identity and a more or less permanent endurance.
Third, the work must be ‘original’. The legal definition of originality has given rise to considerable difficulty but it is generally agreed that ‘originality’ in copyright does not mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought, but only with the expression of thought that results from the exertion of sufficient skill and effort. The Act does not require that the expression must be in an original or novel form, but that it should originate from the author and not from another work.
In New Zealand, copyright in most works lasts until the end of the year the author dies plus 50 years.
For example, if a poet published a poem in 1922 and lived another eighty years, her poem would not enter the public domain until December 31, 2053; so a total of 131 years. However, if the same poet died in 1934, her poem would have already entered the public domain in 1985.
In New Zealand the copyright in sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes lasts for 50 years after they are released. The copyright in a typographical arrangement lasts 25 years.
These durations are valid for every work which is originated in New Zealand. Others will be protected for the term for which it is granted protection in its country of origin.
Exclusive rights in copyright, include
- the right to produce or reproduce a work or any substantial part of a work, in any material form;
- the right to perform a work, or any substantial part, in public;
- to publish an unpublished work or any substantial part;
- the right to translate a work; to convert a dramatic work, i.e. a play to a novel; to convert a dramatic work by way of performance, i.e. to convert a novel to a play;
- to make any sound recording;
- to adapt a work as a film, i.e. a novel to a movie;
- to broadcast the work by cable or wirelessly by television or radio to the public;
- to show a work in public;
- to authorise somebody other than the copyright holder to do any of the above acts.
Applying a New Zealand Creative Commons Licence:
If you want to attach a CC logo and licence to a plain text document, you simply need to cut and paste the appropriate information into your work. Once you have chosen a licence, you will be directed to a page called ‘Licence Your Work’ that gives you tools to let others know that your work is licensed.
On the right hand side is a link titled ‘mark a document not on the web, add this text to your document’ that you can click on. Here, a pop-up box provides you with ready-made text (specific to your chosen licence) that you simply copy and paste to your own document.
If you would like to incorporate a licence logo as well, copy and/or drag one of the logos provided on that same ‘Licence Your Work’ page to your own document.
I don’t know about html, or I don’t have access to the html of my webpage. Can I still licence my work online?
Using a Creative Commons Licensed Work:
Creative Commons, as an organization, does not control how the licences are used and does not check or verify whether a Creative Commons licence has been correctly applied to a particular work. Creative Commons does not endorse or certify any use of its licences.
Instead, Creative Commons provides the licences as a tool that may be adopted (or not) by members of the creative community. Creative Commons does not determine whether the use of the licences is appropriate for your situation or for a particular work.
The key terms of the core suite of Creative Commons licences are: Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works and Share Alike:
Attribution=you must attribute the author and/or licensor in the manner they require.
Noncommercial=you may not use the work in a manner primarily directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.
No Derivative Works=you may only make verbatim copies of the work, you may not adapt or change it.
Share Alike=you may only make derivative works if you license them under the same Creative Commons licence terms.
For an overview of our licences and links to the Commons Deed and Legal Code, check out our Licences Explained page.
If you are using a work licensed under Creative Commons:
- Keep intact any copyright notices for the work.
- Credit the author, licensor and/or other parties (such as a wiki or journal) in the manner they specify and refer to the license they have chosen.
If you are making a derivative use of a work licensed under CC, you need to identify that your work is a derivative work, ie. “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author]” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”
A derivative work is a work that is based on another work but is not an exact, verbatim copy. In general, translation from one language to another or a film version of a book are examples of derivative works. Under Creative Commons’ licences, synching music in timed-relation with a moving image is considered to be a derivative work.
It’s important to note, however, that the Creative Commons licences allow the user to exercise the rights permitted under the licence in any format or media, even in the No Derivative Works licences. This means that, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works licence, for example, you can copy the work from a digital file to a print file consistent with the terms of that licence.
If I use a Creative Commons licensed work with other works, do I have to Creative Commons license everything else as well?
With the exception of those of our licences that contain the Share Alike element, the Creative Commons licences do not require everything else to be Creative Commons licensed as well. We specifically designed the Creative Commons licences so that they would not turn all other works they were combined with into being Creative Commons licensed. If you combine any work with a Creative Commons licensed work that is licensed with a Share Alike licence provision, then, because of the way that the Share Alike licence element operates, the resultant work will need to be licensed under the same licence as the original work.
If you include a Creative Commons licensed work in a “collective work” (ie. a collection of works in their exact original format, not adaptations), then you only need to continue to apply the Creative Commons licence to that work (even if the work was licensed under a Creative Commons Share Alike licence provision). You do not need to apply it to the entire collection.
Generally yes; you can combine one Creative Commons licensed work with another Creative Commons licensed work or with another unlicensed work.
It is not that simple for Creative Commons licences that contain the Share Alike licence element (ie. Attribution-Share Alike, Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike). These licences require derivative works (ie. the result of two combined works) to be licensed under the same licence elements. So, you cannot, for example, combine an Attribution-Share Alike licence with an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike. If you are combining a work licensed under a Share Alike licence condition, you need to make sure that you are happy and able to license the resulting work under the same licence conditions as the original work.