Creative Commons has released version 4.0 of its sharing-friendly, easy-to-use copyright licenses. The new licenses represent a significant improvement over earlier versions. They work in over 60 jurisdictions out of the box, without having to choose different versions depending on which country you're in; they're more clearly worded; they eliminate confusion over jurisdiction-specific rights like the European database right and moral rights. They clarify how license users are meant to attribute the works they use; provide for anonymity in license use; and give license users a 30 day window to correct violations, making enforcement simpler. Amazingly, they're also shorter than the previous licenses, and easier to read, to boot.
30-day window to correct license violations
All CC licenses terminate when a licensee breaks their terms, but under 4.0, a licensee’s rights are reinstated automatically if she corrects a breach within 30 days of discovering it. The cure period in version 4.0 resembles similar provisions in a some other public licenses and better reflects how licensors and licensees resolve compliance issues in practice. It also assures users that provided they act promptly, they can continue using the CC-licensed work without worry that they may have lost their rights permanently.
The 4.0 license suite is decidedly easier to read and understand than prior versions, not to mention much shorter and better organized. The simplified license structure and use of plain language whenever possible increases the likelihood that licensors and reusers will understand their rights and obligations. This improves enforceability of the licenses and reduces confusion and disagreement about how the licenses operate.
Clarity about adaptations
The BY and BY-NC 4.0 licenses are clearer about how adaptations are to be licensed, a source of confusion for some under the earlier versions of those licenses. These licenses now clarify that you can apply any license to your contributions you want so long as your license doesn’t prevent users of the remix from complying with the original license. While this is how 3.0 and earlier versions are understood, the 4.0 licenses make it abundantly clear and will help remixers in understanding their licensing obligations.