Policies for Creating and Sharing on Scratch

By the MIT Scratch Team

This week, there have been some questions about intellectual property policies in the Scratch website. All of us on the Scratch Team love to see creativity and innovation in our community, as young people share, collaborate, and build on the ideas of others. At the same time, we want to respect people and organizations who want to limit the use of their images, music, and other content on the Scratch website, consistent with copyright law. We’re writing this blog post to clarify our stance on intellectual property and copyright within the Scratch community.

We developed the Scratch programming language and community to encourage young people to create and share personally meaningful projects with images, sounds, music, and other multimedia elements. All projects shared on Scratch are automatically covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. That means that everyone in the Scratch community can make use of the code, images, and sounds in other projects on the site, as long as they give credit to the original author. We decided on this approach because we believe that sharing and collaboration enhance learning and creativity for everyone in the community.

While all images and sounds created within Scratch are free to be copied and reused, issues sometimes arise when Scratch members import copyrighted images, music, and other content created by people outside of the Scratch website. We hope that the owners of this content will appreciate that Scratch, as a not-for-profit educational project, supports children’s learning and creativity — so it is appropriate to use copyrighted content in Scratch projects in some circumstances, under the Fair Use doctrine of copyright law. However, we also recognize that there can be reasons, in some instances, for limiting the use of copyrighted content on the Scratch site.

When we receive a notification from a person or organization that doesn’t want their copyrighted content used in a particular Scratch project, we follow a process outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Section 512 of the US Copyright Act). So, if you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please follow the process described on the Scratch DMCA page. We will review your claim and promptly respond — including, if appropriate, by taking down the project in question.

There are now more than 12.5 million projects shared on the Scratch website, with 20,000 additional projects shared every day. We’re amazed by the diversity and creativity of the projects, ranging from animated dance contests to interactive newspapers to virtual tours of imaginary worlds. As Scratch community members continue to share and build on one another’s work, we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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