Modifying the CC licenses
CC recognizes that we cannot control or prohibit separate agreements or understandings outside of CC's standard license terms. After all, CC is not a party to the license – it is an agreement between the licensor and licensee. We can, however, insist that CC trademarks not be used in connection with separate agreements, understandings, and interpretations that create unwanted friction.
CC has the following guidelines for modifying or supplementing its licenses:
- If you make a change to the legal terms of the license, you may no longer call it a Creative Commons license.
- but it is permissible to distribute the work in a format that is not easily shared or to put content behind a paywall
CC does recognize that providing clarification can make sense intuitively, and is arguably useful in a few limited circumstances, but only when doing so:
- is consistent with, and not contrary to, the terms of the license, and does not alter the usage permissions or alter the conditions imposed
- does ‘’’not’’’ impose any requirement on a particular class of users that they contact the licensor in advance for permissions the license has already granted
- does ‘’’not’’’ otherwise increase transaction costs for any potential licensee
Rationale for the CC policy: ‘‘the beauty of standardization’’
The above guidelines are designed to preserve the underlying principles and benefits of public licensing for licensors and licensees, by reducing conflicts and confusion that may ensue. One of the fundamental design principles of CC licensing is granting permission to the public in advance, thereby reducing transaction costs and facilitating reuse. CC licenses achieve this result through terms and conditions that are ‘’standard,’’ meaning the same terms and conditions apply for all content licensed under a particular CC license. The result is reduced friction for creators who want to allow certain reuses without negotiating and granting lots of individual permissions, and for reusers who want to make use of that content with minimal hassle.