A Menagerie of Open Content Licenses


Although Creative Commons takes up the lion’s share of open content licensing, there are other open content licenses out there.  Many were part of an original “Copyleft” movement, which was a collection of licenses that worked similarly to the ShareAlike license, all derivative works had to be offered under the same license.  Note that some of these licenses were created at the start of the open content movement and have fallen out of use.


Happy Birthday USA

U.S Government Works

A United States government work is prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties.  It is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.

Open Content Licenses

These are perhaps the earliest versions of formalized open content licenses.  It has largely fallen out of popularity because it doesn’t provide the variety of options afforded by the Creative Commons licenses, which the Open Content Project now recommends.

GNU Licenses

Aimed at software, these are still relatively prominent and are part of the copyleft movement, creating works that others can use and share under the same license.

Against DRM License

This copyleft license is designed as a response to DRM licenses, “Digital Rights Management,” which basically prohibits others from altering digital content and devices in ways not intended by creators.

Open Game License

This license is for… games.  It grants permission to modify, copy, and redistribute portions of game content, notably game mechanics.


Did we miss one? Leave a comment below!

See the rest of our Free Media Guide for more info on how to license, find, and make the best open content!

Creative Commons Love: EJP Photo on Flickr.com


Written by Michael Jones
Michael JonesA Menagerie of Open Content Licenses