Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

Explore the Creative Commons Licenses

  • There are four primary components  which make up the licenses:
    • Attribution – Giving credit to the original creator
    • NoDerivs – Impacts your ability to change, or make derivates of, the original work in any way
    • NonCommercial – Any use you make of the work must not be for financial gain
    • ShareAlike – Your use of the work must be licensed with the same freedoms/restrictions as the original work with regards to the previous three components
  • Additionally, Creative Commons has two Public Domain labels to identify material that may be freely used
    • Public Domain Mark – for older items that are known to be free of copyright worldwide due to expiration of terms
    • CC0 – for creators of new items who want to waive all copyright claims on a work
      • Remember that once you do so, you cannot reclaim rights at a later date

Best Practices for Attribution

  • Consider the attribution at the bottom of the work as a tassel, or TASL: Title, Author, Source, License
    • Example: Below this image, you see the title of the work (“Beaver Walking”), followed by the author (Neil Sasaki), the source is found in the hyperlink embedded in the title–this is where I found the original item, and finally the license is listed with another hyperlink that takes the user to the page for that license on the Creative Commons website.
Beaver Walking

Beaver Walking” by Neil Sasaki is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Important Note: Consider that Creative Commons licenses are privately selected and applied without oversight. Creative Commons does not guarantee that the person acting as an owner and putting a CC license on a piece of work is, in fact, the legal rights holder. Creative Commons states, “This means that you should satisfy yourself that the person has all the necessary rights to make the work available under a Creative Commons license. You should know that if you are wrong, you could be liable for copyright infringement based on your use of the work.”


Moving on, the next section looks at Fair Use.



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Disclaimer: The content of this page is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.