Five Years Into Creative Commons USA

Five years ago, Creative Commons USA officially launched as an affiliate at the American University Washington College of Law. The goal was to establish a center for expert and legal information around open licensing for policymakers in DC and across the country.

Over the past five years, we’ve helped make huge strides towards a culture of openness and sharing in the United States. We’ve worked with passionate advocates across the country and reached thousands of practitioners. Here are just a handful of the highlights and numbers from our work so far:

Advocacy: Creative Commons USA staff have worked in-depth with nine different federal agencies, including the Departments of State, Education, and Labor, USAID, NASA, and the NSF, on at least twenty different policy initiatives. Most notably, we helped shepherd the Department of Education’s open licensing requirement, which finally came into effect earlier this year.

Additionally, we have provided technical assistance around open licensing and open policy – to Congress around the most recent OER grant program, and to state policymakers as they explore legislation around open education. We also submitted comments to the Texas Board of Education around open licensing options, and developed a State Legislative Guide, among other resources.

Outreach: Since January of last year, our team has attended more than two dozen conferences and another dozen webinars to present on open education, and we have held both virtual and in-person office hours to help educators and other practitioners troubleshoot licensing questions. We have an additional seven presentations scheduled this fall, including two conferences we’re co-organizing at American University.

Also in 2017, to scale our limited capacity, we built and launched a new website that averages around 700 hits per day. We also created a set of shareable materials, from fact sheets on CC Licensing, Copyright, and the Benefits of Open Education, to legal tools like an adaptable Author’s Agreement for organizations publishing open textbooks.

Coalitions: Creative Commons USA has also been an integral part of a number of coalitions around openness – from efforts to standardize messaging around open education to campaigns encouraging open licensing of federal grant products. We’ve worked in close partnership with dozens of major open-centered organizations, coordinating strategy and collectively bringing our resources to bear.

We are so grateful to the Hewlett and Open Society Foundations for their continued support, and to all of our partners and collaborators for making much of this progress possible.

Over the next five years, we’ll prioritize growing the chapter under the new CC Network structure, scaling up our outreach to practitioners – not just around open education, but open access, data, and culture as well, improving the depth and breadth of materials tackling common licensing and copyright questions, and finally, supporting the work of policymakers and partners in transitioning us toward a more open future.

Interested in joining the chapter and contributing to the next five years? Send a quick email with your contact info to



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