Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization exempt from U.S. federal income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Because of our tax-exempt status, we are limited in the amount of lobbying activity we may engage in as an organization.
Lobbying is any activity that attempts to influence legislation anywhere in the world. For these purposes, legislation includes any action by a legislative body, but does not include actions by administrative agencies or courts.
Generally, 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from devoting a “substantial part” of their activities to lobbying. Creative Commons has elected to be governed by the test set forth in Section 501(h) of the Internal Revenue Code to determine what is “substantial.” This test sets limits on the amount of lobbying expenditures we can spend as a percentage of the total expenditures we make to further our charitable purpose. Those limits are divided into two categories: direct lobbying (any attempt to influence specific legislation) and grassroots lobbying (urging the public to take action on specific legislation).
To comply with these requirements, we keep a detailed record of all of our lobbying activities and expenditures. CC employees and consultants are required to obtain approval before engaging in any activity that may constitute direct or grassroots lobbying, and they must report on the time and money spent engaging in the activity after it is completed. CC affiliates must obtain prior approval before engaging in any lobbying activity on behalf of Creative Commons. If affiliates wish to engage in lobbying in their own private capacity or on behalf of a separate legal entity such as their host institution, then the affiliate should make clear that they are engaging in such action not on behalf of Creative Commons or the CC affiliate team.
CC may not under any circumstances make statements or engage in activities related to the endorsement of any candidate for public office.