Creative Commons is developing an “open business models initiative” aimed at showing how Creative Commons licenses are being used by businesses, not-for-profits, and governments. According to Paul Stacey, Creative Commons’ associate director of global learning, one of the most asked questions by entrepreneurs to the Creative Commons organization is, “How do I earn a living, pay the bills, and keep the lights on if I openly license my work and give it away for free?” The project is intended to identify and share examples of businesses that are doing just that.


Background: The SmallBusiness.com Guide to Creative Commons provides information about the organization that developed the international licensing approach that allows individuals and organizations to “open source” everything from photographs to scientific discovers.

According to Stacey, the project is designed to help businesses see how to use and contribute “to the commons” in a way that aligns with the values of opening and sharing certain types of intellectual property that is often copyrighted or patented, while at the same time operating as a business.

“We want to show what sustainability models look like,” says Stacey. “We want to provide models for businesses whose aim is to provide products and services that have both economic and social value. We aim to make visible how open business models work and provide tools and strategies for designing and developing your own.”

The Creative Commons open business models initiative includes a set of interactive tools that will allow companies to design their own open business models. “You can use the tools to model anything from a new startup open business to an existing open business, or something in between,” according to Stacey.

For details on activities related to the business models initiative, including specifics for participation, and links to the participation tools, visit the Creative Commons Open Business Models Participation Activities document.

(Photo: Opensource.com via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)