These cases together highlight some important fundamentals about how CC licenses operate. First and foremost, our licenses operate in conjunction with copyright, not in lieu of copyright. This means that if the terms of the CC license you have applied to your music or other creative work are violated, as the judge concluded in the Belgian case, the result is copyright infringement and nothing less. Conversely, downstream users who abide by the license conditions are not guilty of infringement. Both court decisions also reinforce a related and subtle (yet important) point for CC licensors — using a CC license does not work against you when it comes to enforcing your copyright later, even when users of your work may not be aware of your license choice. There is no penalty down the line for choosing flexibility over “all rights reserved” when it comes to enforcing your copyright.
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