Released earlier this week, the new licenses are the result of a collaborative two-year process with ambitious goals.
Cory summarizes the 4.0 improvements:
They work in over 60 jurisdictions out of the box, without having to choose different versions depending on which country you’re in; they’re more clearly worded; they eliminate confusion over jurisdiction-specific rights like the European database right and moral rights. They clarify how license users are meant to attribute the works they use; provide for anonymity in license use; and give license users a 30 day window to correct violations, making enforcement simpler. Amazingly, they’re also shorter than the previous licenses, and easier to read, to boot.
The Creative Commons Wiki shares the rationale behind the update (as well as a bit of CC history and an in-depth rundown on the changes)
Although the 3.0 license suite proved a tremendous improvement over earlier versions, we noticed limits on its effectiveness in the years following its publication in 2007. Among those were questions about the degree to which the 3.0 licenses could ever be fully accepted internationally. Another involved complications stemming from the existence of copyright-like rights that can interfere with the reuse of CC-licensed works . . .
In addition to the new common sense descriptions of attribution and the more global approach, 4.0 licenses provide a mechanism allowing those who violate the license inadvertently to regain their rights automatically if the violation is corrected within 30 days of discovering the violation.
Teacher librarians may notice the updates as they work with students to assign licenses to their own creative work using the very helpful CC License Chooser.