In consideration of copyright, creativity and control the question is:
“Is the preponderance of different types of licenses making it easier to reuse resources, or is it adding another layer of complexity which in effect works to place a barrier on using oer? In other words, are all these divergent licenses actually restricting the ways in which resources can be reused? Would it be simpler if we just had copyrighted work, which had to be cleared and public domain work which was free to use.”
Working from a known and relatively simplistic environment where you either draw from copyrighted content or from public domain content certainly seems less complicated. Either you can use it freely or you have to ask for permission and live by standard copyright rules. Lawrence Lessig would say however [something clearly stated in his “refrain”] that simply relying on current copyright law [and its expanding limits on free use] creates a less and less free society. If this is true and encouraging creativity is the goal then alternatives for how people license creative works need to be available.
Having spent considerable time in the consideration of copyright and the options presented it does indeed present a complicated face. Even though the intent was to provide alternatives and to make content more available [particularly for reuse, remixing, redistribution], licensing options like Creative Commons and GNU/GPL do add layers to navigate. On the other hand, as stated in the Tragedy of the Commons “No system that deals with human creativity can keep everybody happy.”
In consideration of the significant change to copyright [and the subsequent loss of openness] and the extension of rights to life plus 70 years [sounds like a sentence for a crime] some response is required. Despite the increased complexity, Creative Commons and GNU/GPL [and others] do provide that response. If we want to use the creative works of others [and protect our own] then the cost of doing business is understanding how that person wants it used. It also means that the burden of understanding those limits assigned by specific copyright lies with us. The more people understand the nature of copyright the more likely they might be to assign copyright that encourages creativity rather than hinder it.