Open Culture


Free and Open Culture refers to a wide range of creative works in all media.  While there is no comprehensive catalog of the commons (yet), here are a few projects and sources of CC-licensed creative works.


Flickr:  You can find more than 200 million photos, nicely organized according to all six CC licenses.  (Here’s songwriter Jonathan Coulton having fun with Flickr photos and the freedom that CC licenses grant.)  If you want to upload photos under a CC license or want to change All Rights Reserved to grant a CC license to your existing photos, instructions are here.

Wikimedia Commons: You can find or upload CC-licensed images, video and much more. (Only CC Attribution and CC Attribution Share Alike)

Picasa: Also enables search for CC licensed photos.

Spotlight: Crescat Graffiti, Vita Excolatur is a project documenting graffiti in the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago. Started by UChicago alumna and IT staff member Quinn Dombrowski in September 2007, this collection has grown to over 1,100 photographs, all licensed using Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike. All the photographs are categorized and available for download in a collection on Flickr, and the collection is supplemented by commentary and analysis on the companion website blog.


YouTube:  You can grant any of the six CC licenses to videos you create and upload to YouTube by marking the video as CC licensed in the video.  This makes it hard to find in a search.  YouTube also has specifically enabled you to search for, or upload, video under the CC Attribution license.

Vimeo: You can find or upload videos that are nicely organized according to all six CC licenses.

You can also find CC-licensed videos on, and Ourmedia.

Spotlight: Deproduction is a Denver-based video production company that has a variety of media incarnations, from Public Access TV aggregate Denver Open Media to civic pixel, an open-source web development group. All the material produced for DOM is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license.


Among all of the CC Music Communities, many are based in the United States.  These include:

Free Music Archive: Jersey City, NJ
The Free Music Archive is a project from WFMU that focuses on aggregating and curating high quality, freely licensed content – the majority of which is CC-licensed. Curators include KEXP, dublab, CBC Radio 3, All Tomorrow’s Parties, and Primavera Sound.

ccMixter: San Francisco/San Diego, CA
ccMixter is an online remix community focused on enabling derivative musical works on a large scale. Originally sponsored by Creative Commons, ccMixter is now sponsored by ArtisTech Media.

Indaba Music: New York City, NY
Indaba Music is a hub for online collaboration between musicians. Its digital recording tools enable artists to share loops and songs under the CC license of its choosing as well as pick from a large pool of professional CC-licensed samples and loops. Indaba is well known for its artists remix contests that often use CC licenses to facilitate user-end remix promotion.

Bandcamp: San Francisco, CA
BandCamp enables artists to build simple and straightforward profiles to sell and distribute music in a range of formats. Artists are able to indicate CC licenses on these releases and, as a result, easily sell CC-licensed material.

Spotlight: Magnatune, a record label founded in 2003, is a pioneer of open music, the most successful attempt to embed the Creative Commons Non Commercial Share Alike 1.0 license in a sustainable commercial venture, and an early adopter of variable pricing. Initially conceived as part online radio station, part retailer and part licensing-suite, the business model continues to evolve in response to consumer and technology trends. Magnatune uses unconventional means to create the fan base, and then monetizes it via the traditional — though updated — methods of selling downloads and commercial licensing rights. Magnatune makes non-exclusive agreements with its artists and gives them fifty percent of any proceeds from online sales or licensing. All tracks available on Magnatune come without DRM and buyers can set the price they wish to pay for an album.


Textual works under a CC license are the hardest to gather in one place.  Blogs are far and away the largest category of textual works under a CC license, but there is no Flickr or Vimeo style searchable repository of these.

Much of the non-fiction under a CC license is research or education based, reflected in our other categories.  CC-licensed fiction is widely dispersed, but here’s one list of some favorites.

Spotlight: Citizen Now is an open-source visioning project anchored in a group of Creative Commons-licensed statements — formally, the “Draft Guiding Statements for a Community Convening a Democracy Movement for the United States — that were consensus-developed, from August 2010 to January 2012, by the Principles and Purpose Working Group. The Working Group came together to support the development of the political organization known as the Coffee Party. But, over time, the Group saw its mission less and less exclusively in those terms — and, by the time the Group concluded its work, it had become completely independent of the Coffee Party.  In January 2012, the Group provisioned the statements with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, as well as with a dedicated wiki, and published the statements at