Featured Photo: Kristina Alexanderson, via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Here at Pixsy, our users often ask how a Creative Commons license will affect their case submissions.

When the “next generation” of CC licenses, the 4.0 suite, were launched back in 2013 we were naturally eager to learn more about their impact on photography.

Over 2 years of research went into the development and creation of these new licenses. What does the CC 4.0 stand for? More importantly, what does it mean for photographers and their pursuit of unauthorised image use?

Note: If you’re a newbie to Creative Commons and the concept of “flexible copyright”, check out our previous guides on how to use Creative Commons (and its pros/cons), as well as our breakdown of the best CC licenses for photography.

Clear Attribution

The Creative Commons 4.0 license reflects current internet practices for attribution. Image users must now attribute the photographer through a link to a separate page — with attribution information and a link to the original URL whenever reasonable.

In practice, this means you (the image creator) can create a “credits” page on your website. Then, any blogger, journalist or company can link to this page when using your work, rather than including the usual license code, author name etc. The normal rules regarding “No-Derivative” and “Non-Commercial” license conditions still apply, of course.

This is a more practical and flexible system for clearly connecting the image back to the source and license. Requiring attribution was already a component of previous CC licenses, but the 4.0 clarifies the requirement, and gives photographers the exposure their work deserves.

Allowing anonymity when desired

In cases where photographers don’t want to be attributed for a certain use of their image, they can now request that their attribution be removed in any circumstance. If your CC-licensed work has ever been posted on embarrassing or unflattering websites, this may come in handy!

The 3.0 license had this option enabled for adapted works, but 4.0 opens up this option to photographers for all uses of their images.

Worldwide use

The original Creative Commons licenses were written around the US legal system. As the worldwide sharing culture came to fruition, these licenses became incompatible within different local legislations.

For 6 years, Creative Commons worked with legal experts around the globe to import each licensee into over 60 jurisdictions. This system is referred to as ‘porting’. However, it meant long waiting times and restricted jurisdictions for image users.

Creative Commons 4.0 eliminates this need for porting. The licenses are “jurisdiction-agnostic” and universally valid. Ready to use around the globe immediately, no single jurisdiction’s laws or statutes factor into the legal code. All are intended to function without adjustment around the globe – there are even official CC translations available, depending on your region.

30 Day window to correct violations

Perhaps the biggest change introduced with the 4.0 licensee is the 30-Day correction window granted to image users who have violated the license terms and conditions.

Like all Creative Commons licenses, a right to use a CC license is revoked if and when an image user does not comply with the license terms. With the 4.0 CC, the image user has 30 days from notification to correct the breach before the license is technically considered broken.

Will a Creative Commons 4.0 license affect my Pixsy case submissions?

We’ve helped photographers fight numerous cases where their Creative Commons license has been breached.

Because of these changes to the Creative Commons 4.0 license terms, Pixsy advises reaching out to the image user independently to make the necessary corrections towards compliance with your Creative Commons license.

If after 30 days the image user has still not taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance with your license terms, Pixsy can then help you pursue this case of unauthorised use.

Creative Commons stated that they implemented this system to better reflect public license practice, allowing image users to use CC photographs without worry. It can also be argued that this ‘cure period’ may encourage image users to use Creative Commons 4.0 imagery somewhat lazily, without following the license terms until they are notified otherwise.

At Pixsy, we believe that photographers deserve their licenses to be correctly followed from the start. It is well known that most online posts receive the most views in the first week of publication. If the photographer notices the broken use at a much later date there is no way to recover the lost potential revenue and impact of the violation in those crucial first few days.