Proposing CC-PRO: A License For Professionals

What’s the best license for professionals to use? Our fantasy answer is CC-PRO, the Creative Commons license we’d like to see…


CC-PRO logo

Professional work deserves to be recognized.

CC-PRO is a Creative Commons license that meets the specific needs of professional authors, artists, and musicians. CC-PRO uses Creative Commons’ most powerful license to ensure high-quality work goes further and is recognized more. It offers the strongest protection against both plagiarism and censorship. It invites attention, collaboration and recognition from your most important audience: other professionals.

Strongest protection against:
abusive exploitation

name recognition
archiving and preservation
collaboration with other professionals

Professional work deserves to be recognized. Use CC-PRO.



CC-PRO Icons 2

This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Professional 3.0 License (with thanks to Creative Commons for encouraging remixes of their site).

So what’s CC-PRO?

CC-PRO is CC-ShareAlike, but rebranded. Our point is that it’s the best license for professionals (as well as for everyone else).

The Creative Commons licenses have done artists a great service: they’ve spread the message that freedom is a factor, and that different behaviors can arise if you allow your audience more freedoms.

But more and more, we’ve seen professional artists choose Creative Commons licenses that consign their works to a non-professional ghetto. We’re referring to the Creative Commons “Non-Commercial” family of licenses: licenses that essentially say “Do what you want with this, as long as you don’t make money from it.” While that might at first seem like it simply reserves to the artist the right to use the work professionally, it has the much larger effect of removing the work from most professional contexts entirely. Another way to put it is: if you allow other people to make money using your work, some of that money will find its way to you. Excluding your work from the world of professional activity (except as specifically approved by you) limits its life and limits your audience’s ability to help distribute it. The best license is the one that grants your audience and other artists the same freedoms you have.

Creative Commons has been careful not to recommend any one of their licenses over another for professional artists. The CC mantra has been “choice”, and that may have been a wise course so far, because it lets artists open up this new world at their own pace. But now we’d like to offer a direct answer to the question “Which license should I use?” CC-PRO: the license for professional artists, and the license that treats your audience and fellow artists with the same respect they give you.

(Thanks to Nina Paley for the idea and the remix.)

5 Comments on "Proposing CC-PRO: A License For Professionals"

  1. Yep, this is one huge a-ha! moment for me.

    Previously I’ve been using the Attribution 3.0 Unported but kept thinking what if someone abused my work sometime down the line. The CC-Pro option answers my question: anybody can use my work even for commercial purposes but they can’t license it with a full copyright.

    This is a great solution. Thanks QC and Nina.

    P.S: I almost asked “How much do I have to pay to upgrade to Pro?”. Consequences of a copyright laden culture I tell ya 🙂

    Endy Daniyanto

  2. Since Free Software is a proven model of Free Culture, culture professionals should use the same, proven license. (Which a Share Alike license essentially is.)

  3. So the BSD (no share alike provision) is only used by non-professional software developers?

  4. …just the best one, because it’s copyleft.

    The Free Software Foundation sez, “We recommend copyleft, because it protects freedom for all users, but non-copylefted software can still be free software, and useful to the free software community.”

  5. While I also prefer the copyleft (“sharealike”) licenses, both they and the attribution-only (CC-BY, BSD more or less, etc) are essentially free licenses.

    The main point about CC-PRO is that it gets away from the insidious idea that professional artists are best off requiring no-derivs or non-commercial terms. In software, this already happened: plenty of pros use truly free licenses. But in the other arts, it’s much less true. Many artists mistakenly think that licensing their stuff under CC-BY-NC-SA or CC-BY-NC-ND is still “mostly free”, or has something in common with the open source / free software movement. CC-PRO is a way of steering the conversation more forcefully towards freedom, in professional contexts. I don’t think it matters so much whether CC-PRO is an alias for “Attribution” or “Attribution-ShareAlike”; the important thing is that it does not include any no-derivatives nor non-commercial restrictions.