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This page presented an issue for consideration in the CC license suite 4.0 versioning process. The discussions have now concluded with the publication of the 4.0 licenses, and the information on this page is now kept as an archive of previous discussions. The primary forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process was the CC license discuss email list. You may subscribe to contribute to any continuing post-launch discussions, such as those surrounding compatibility and license translation. The wiki has been populated with links to relevant email threads from the mailing list where applicable, and other topics for discussion were raised in the 4.0/Sandbox. See the 4.0 page for more about the process.

Summary = One of our highest goals for the 4.0 process, consistent with all prior license development efforts, is to ensure that our licenses operate globally and atop applicable copyright law as intended. This page provides context for making internationalization an express priority for 4.0, and serves as a discussion forum for aggregating relevant considerations and proposals.

Importantly, internationalization of the license in 4.0 is important regardless of whether CC continues to authorize porting in the future. We expect to address the necessity of porting, for legal or other important reasons, at the end of the 4.0 process.

Context and importance

As public licenses, any CC license can be used by anyone, anywhere, even those licenses ported to the laws of a particular jurisdiction where the licensor has no connection. Beginning with version 3.0, in an effort to better achieve our goal, CC stopped drafting its international (formerly known as the unported) licenses against U.S. copyright law, and changed its approach. With 3.0, CC deliberately chose to use the language of major international copyright treaties and conventions in its international suite [1] and designed the licenses to fully operate anywhere in accordance with applicable copyright law. We introduced a new provision in the international licenses to make this explicit:

The rights granted under, and the subject matter referenced, in this License were drafted utilizing the terminology of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (as amended on September 28, 1979), the Rome Convention of 1961, the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996 and the Universal Copyright Convention (as revised on July 24, 1971). These rights and subject matter take effect in the relevant jurisdiction in which the License terms are sought to be enforced according to the corresponding provisions of the implementation of those treaty provisions in the applicable national law. If the standard suite of rights granted under applicable copyright law includes additional rights not granted under this License, such additional rights are deemed to be included in the License; this License is not intended to restrict the license of any rights under applicable law.[2]

Notwithstanding, Creative Commons continued its long-standing practice of allowing legal teams within the jurisdictions to localize the licenses. As of 1 December, 2011, 30+ jurisdictions have ported the 3.0 license suite, bringing the total number of unique licenses stewarded by CC to more than 550.[3]

CC believes further internationalization of the CC license suite is a high priority, and ought be a priority for the entire CC community. The most central reasons include:

  • Although 55+ jurisdictions have ported some version of the CC licenses to their jurisdiction, there are more than twice that number of jurisdictions party to major copyright treaties that do not have ported licenses.[4] This creates a disparity between those jurisdictions that do not have resources or capacity to port, and those who do, and results in several negative consequences ranging from the belief that they cannot use CC licenses at all if there is no local port, to a feeling of not belong to the global CC community. We want to be sure that the international suite addresses the needs (both legally and culturally) of those jurisdictions as well as for those jurisdictions that may not want to continue the resource-intensive porting process.
  • Confusion on the part of both licensors (which license should I choose?) and licensees (among other things, what does using a ported license mean?).
  • Proliferation of CC licenses, some of which contain unique provisions that impede usability and could compromise compatibility.

4.0 considerations

Further internationalizing the licenses implicates important drafting considerations:

Proposals for internationalization in 4.0

[Note: these proposals are not necessarily mutually exclusive]

Related debate

We encourage you to sign up for the license discussion mailing list, where we will be debating these and other 4.0 proposals. HQ will provide links to related email threads from the license discussion mailing list here.

Relevant references

Please add citations that ought inform this 4.0 issue below.


  1. See the version 3.0 announcement explaining changes.
  2. See Section 8(f) of the 3.0 international licenses.
  3. This number includes all ported and international licenses in all license suites.
  4. For example, there are more than 160 contracting parties to the Berne Convention.