CC is embarking on a versioning process for its core license suite, which we expect will result in version 4.0. The first public discussions of 4.0 were held at CC's Global Summit 2011. The public process was kicked off with a blog post laying out some of the key reasons for pursuing 4.0 at this time.

Since CC's launch in 2002, it has versioned its core license suite three times, the last (3.0) in early 2007. CC licenses constitute a globally-recognized framework, developed in consultation with legal experts and CC affiliate institutions in over 70 jurisdictions. Over 500 million CC-licensed works have been published by their authors on the Internet. Today, Creative Commons licenses, public domain tools, and supporting technologies are the global standard for sharing across culture, education, government, science, and more.

Version 4.0 is a tremendous opportunity to ensure the license suite is ideally crafted to further CC's vision and mission over the next decades. Please participate in this important discussion.


Goals and objectives

Creative Commons staff, board and community have to date identified several goals for the next version of its core license suite tied to achieving CC's goal and mission. These include:

Internationalization – further adapt the core suite of international licenses to operate globally, ensuring they are robust, enforceable and easily adopted worldwide;
Interoperability – maximize interoperability between CC licenses and other licenses to reduce friction within the commons, promote standards and stem license proliferation;
Long-lasting — anticipate new and changing adoption opportunities and legal challenges, allowing the new suite of licenses to endure for the foreseeable future;
Data/PSI/Science/Education — recognize and address impediments to adoption of CC by governments as well as other important, publicly-minded institutions in these and other critical arenas; and
Supporting Existing Adoption Models and Frameworks – remain mindful of and accommodate the needs of our existing community of adopters leveraging pre-4.0 licenses, including governments but also other important constituencies.

Organization and purpose of this wiki

This wiki is the central location for documenting key discussion topics and suggestions for improving the license suite in version 4.0, together with supporting information and relevant links. It is intended to supplement, not replace, the CC license discuss email list (subscribe) that will serve as the main discussion forum for the versioning process just as it has with prior versioning efforts.

CC has pre-populated the wiki with key topics identified to date. We ask contributors to be thoughtful about placement of additional and related topics, and the creation of new pages altogether. Before starting a new page, consider posting the suggestion to the Sandbox. We would also prefer that contributors use their real names when editing the wiki.


As a license steward and steward of the commons, our goal for the process is to ensure utmost transparency and inclusiveness. The 4.0 process will be conducted in line with our prior versioning efforts, with periodic publication of license drafts for public comment and documentation of issue resolution as that occurs. One important difference from our past efforts, however, is a formal requirements gathering period that will run for a period of time prior to publication of the first draft. During this period, we strongly encourage the broadest participation possible by everyone with an interest in the commons and the role open licensing plays in its future.

The primary discussion forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process will be the CC license discuss email list. Please subscribe and add your voice to this important effort.

Draft timeline

The dates noted below are approximate and subject to change. The number of drafts and public comment periods may vary depending on the number and type of issues raised and how they are resolved, among other things. Watch this page for updates, including major events such as affiliate regional meetings where 4.0 discussions will take place.

September 2011 Launch 4.0 process at CC Global Summit
December 2011 thru mid-February 2012 Requirements gathering period
April 2, 2012 Publish first draft of 4.0
April thru June 2012 Public comment period #1
August 2012 Publish second draft of 4.0
August 2012 to February 2013 Public comment period #2
February 2013 Publish third (final) draft of 4.0; begin porting consultation
February - March 2013 Third and final public comment period; porting consultation
Q2 2013 Finalize and publish version 4.0 license suite

Items for discussion

Various aspects of the license suite potentially could be improved in the version 4.0 licenses. We will gather and rigorously debate and analyze these items and corresponding proposals for handling them in version 4.0. We encourage the broadest possible engagement in this process. This is a particularly important goal during the requirements gathering stage when everyone is strongly encouraged (and our affiliates are expected) to provide feedback on proposed changes and suggest other changes they would like to see. Add, improve, and discuss specific items in the pages linked below. If you do not find a suitable existing page and category for an item you would like to propose or discuss, please add it to the 4.0/Sandbox where suggestions for new pages will be aggregated.

Finally, we encourage contributors to take the time to review prior versioning efforts, including relevant discussions of important topics previously debated by the CC community and discussions related to their resolution. Being aware of and taking those into account will be important to an effective and efficient process, particularly if a request is made to revisit and potentially change direction in 4.0.

Item/Category Name
4.0/Attribution and marking
4.0/Disclaimer of warranties and related issues
4.0/License subject matter
4.0/Moral rights
4.0/Sui generis database rights
4.0/Technical protection measures
4.0/Treatment of adaptations

Related pages

4.0 Sandbox
Porting Project
4.0 Drafts
4.0 Draft 1
4.0 Draft 2
4.0 Draft 3

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