History of Creative Commons/Creative Commons Organization


The name "Creative Commons" references the concept of the commons, a social system by which resources are held in common. According to David Bollier, both long-term stewardship and self-organization are essential to the commons. The commons includes both the community and the resources in question and is a set of values which render them sustainable. Bollier argues that open networks such as Wikipedia form a kind of digital commons.[1]


Lawrence Lessig was the founder and first CEO of the Creative Commons, but he stepped down in 2008 and was replaced by Joi Ito.[2] The present CEO is Ryan Merkley, who joined the organization in 2014.[3] The Creative Commons organization Includes a staff, board, and advisory council.[4]

In addition to its official staff and board, Creative Commons includes a network of affiliates known as the Creative Commons Global network, which represents Creative Commons around the world.


The mission of the Creative Commons is to "develop, support, and steward legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation."[5] To this end, Creative Commons sponsors four program areas: [5]

  • Licenses + Legal Tools
  • Discovery and Collaboration Tools
  • Policy + Advocacy
  • Community Building

Each of these areas includes both technical work and outreach and advocacy. Creative Commons has programs to educate potential license users, to support institutions as they unlock content, and to advocate for copyright reform.[5]

Creative Commons Global NetworkEdit

The Creative Commons Global Network includes Creative Commons representatives in over 60 countries.[6] Members of the network conduct public outreach and training and answer questions about Creative Commons.[7]

In 2017, the network underwent a community-led strategic process which resulted in a new strategy document and governance structure.[8] The main governance body is the Global Network Council.

Chapters coordinate this work geographically. Each chapter is made up of people who live in a particular area. Chapters follow the Creative Commons charter, and are vouched for by two members of the Global Network. [6]

Platforms organize the work areas of the Global Network online. There are currently four platforms, concerned with open education, copyright reform, community development, and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums).[6]

The platforms are still under development but can be viewed on GitHub.[9]


  1. Bollier, David. "The Commons, Short and Sweet." bollier.org. July 15, 2011. http://www.bollier.org/commons-short-and-sweet
  2. Geere, Duncan. "The History of Creative Commons." Wired UK. December 13, 2011. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/history-of-creative-commons
  3. Ryan Merkley bio. Creative Commons.org https://creativecommons.org/author/ryancreativecommons-org/
  4. "Team." Creativecommons.org. https://creativecommons.org/about/team/
  5. a b c "Program Areas." Creativecommons.org. https://creativecommons.org/about/program-areas
  6. a b c "Global Affiliate Network." Creative Commons website. https://creativecommons.org/about/global-affiliate-network/
  7. "CC Affiliate Network." Creative Commons Wiki.https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/CC_Affiliate_Network
  8. "Network Strategy." Creative Commons.org. n.d.https://creativecommons.org/about/global-affiliate-network/network-strategy/
  9. Creative Commons Network Platforms. GitHub. https://github.com/creativecommons/network-platforms