UK gets its own Creative Commons

The groundbreaking licensing scheme that lets content be both shared and safeguarded reaches the UK

A version of the Creative Commons licensing scheme adapted for the UK's legal landscape will be formally launched in London on Wednesday evening.

Creative Commons was first developed by US academic Lawrence Lessig as a more flexible alternative to the traditional copyright laws. It allows content creators to grant some rights to the public while keeping others — for example, allowing anyone to republish their material as long as it is attributed.

The Creative Commons movement began in 2001, but the original versions of the licence were written to comply with US laws. The UK-specific version has been some 15 months in the making, and has already attracted interest from some major British organisations.

Christian Ahlert, Internet projects officer at the Oxford Internet Institute, is one of the people behind the drive to create Creative Commons licences for the UK.

"In spirit, they do not differ from the originals in any way," Ahlert told ZDNet UK.

Ahlert said that individuals and businesses in Britain who already use Creative Commons should consider shifting to the UK versions.

"They give more certainty and security. If Creative Commons is tested in court, it's better to have used a version with UK legal wording rather than US legal wording," Ahlert added.

The BBC is expected to use the UK Creative Commons licences for its Creative Archive, in which it will throw open its back catalogue of broadcasting material.

Ahlert said that communications regulator Ofcom and think tank Demos have both shown interest in the UK Creative Commons licences.