Microsoft and Creative Commons Release Tool for Copyright Licensing

REDMOND, Wash., and SAN FRANCISCO — June 20, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. and Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works, have teamed up to release a copyright licensing tool that enables the easy addition of Creative Commons licensing information for works in popular Microsoft® Office applications. The copyright licensing tool will be available free of charge at Microsoft Office Online, and The tool will enable the 400 million users of Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel® and Microsoft Office PowerPoint® to select one of several Creative Commons licenses from within the specific application.

“We’re delighted to work with Creative Commons to bring fresh and collaborative thinking on copyright licensing to authors and artists of all kinds,” said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft. “We are honored that creative thinkers everywhere choose to use Microsoft tools to give shape to their ideas. We’re committed to removing barriers to the sharing of ideas across borders and cultures, and are offering this copyright tool in that spirit.”

“The goal of Creative Commons is to provide authors and artists with simple tools to mark their creative work with the freedom they intend it to carry,” said Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of Creative Commons. “We’re incredibly excited to work with Microsoft to make that ability easily available to the hundreds of millions of users of Microsoft Office.”

“It’s thrilling to see big companies like Microsoft working with nonprofits to make it easier for artists and creators to distribute their works,” said Gilberto Gil, cultural minister of Brazil, host nation for the Creative Commons iSummit in Rio de Janeiro June 23 through 25, where the copyright licensing tool will be featured. Gil, who will keynote at the iSummit, has released one of the first documents using the Creative Commons add-in for Microsoft Office.

The goal of the Creative Commons licenses is to give an author a clearer ability to express his or her intentions regarding the use of the work. The Microsoft Office tool allows users to choose from a variety of Creative Commons licenses that enable an author to retain copyright ownership, yet permit the work to be copied and distributed with certain possible restrictions, such as whether or not the work can be used commercially and whether or not modifications can be made to the work. The full list of licenses available from Creative Commons is available online. The tool also provides a way for users to dedicate a work to the public domain.

“Microsoft’s openness in working with the Creative Commons is a very exciting because an author can now easily embed licenses to creative works during the process of innovation,” said Ian Angell, professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics (LSE). “This is an important step in ensuring that each individual becomes aware of his or her own intellectual property rights — and those of others. We at the LSE are keen to work with Microsoft toward empowering the ‘creators of intellectual wealth’ to become more involved in its commercial use.” The LSE partners with Creative Commons to drive Creative Commons license adoption and awareness in England and Wales.

“Creative Commons licenses are essential for protecting my creative work and for sharing it with others. They help with copyright issues, which frees me to do my job: making movies. I’m glad Microsoft Office users can now so easily use Creative Commons’ tools,” said Davis Guggenheim, director of the documentaries “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Teach” and member of the board of directors of Creative Commons.

“The collaboration of Microsoft and Creative Commons to bring Creative Commons licenses to Microsoft Office applications underscores how for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations can work together to bring innovative ideas and tools to the public,” said Alan Yates, general manager of the Information Worker Division at Microsoft.

Microsoft and Creative Commons partnered with 3sharp LLC, a Redmond-based independent solution provider to develop and test the copyright licensing tool.

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works — whether owned or in the public domain. Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists and educators that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. It is sustained by the generous support of various foundations including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Omidyar Network Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as members of the public. For general information, visit

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Excel and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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