TOP 5 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS:
Creative Commons licenses provide an easy way to manage the copyright terms that attach automatically to all creative material under copyright. Our licenses allow that material to be shared and reused under terms that are flexible and legally sound. Creative Commons offers a core suite of six copyright licenses. Because there is no single “Creative Commons license,” it is important to identify which of the six licenses you are applying to your material, which of the six licenses has been applied to material that you intend to use, and in both cases the specific version.
All of our licenses require that users provide attribution (BY) to the creator when the material is used and shared. Some licensors choose the BY license, which requires attribution to the creator as the only condition to reuse of the material. The other five licenses combine BY with one or more of three additional license elements: NonCommercial (NC), which prohibits commercial use of the material; NoDerivatives (ND), which prohibits the sharing of adaptations of the material; and ShareAlike (SA), which requires adaptations of the material be released under the same license.
CC licenses may be applied to any type of work, including educational resources, music, photographs, databases, government and public sector information, and many other types of material. The only categories of works for which CC does not recommend its licenses are computer software and hardware. You should also not apply Creative Commons licenses to works that are no longer protected by copyright or are otherwise in the public domain. Instead, for those works in the worldwide public domain, we recommend that you mark them with the Public Domain Mark.
CC licenses are operative only when applied to material in which a copyright exists, and even then only when a particular use would otherwise not be permitted by copyright. Note that the latest version of CC licenses also applies to rights similar to copyright, such as neighboring rights and sui generis database rights. Learn more about the scope of the licenses. This means that CC license terms and conditions are not triggered by uses permitted under any applicable exceptions and limitations to copyright, nor do license terms and conditions apply to elements of a licensed work that are in the public domain. This also means that CC licenses do not contractually impose restrictions on uses of a work where there is no underlying copyright. This feature (and others) distinguish CC licenses from some other open licenses like the ODbL and ODC-BY, both of which are intended to impose contractual conditions and restrictions on the reuse of databases in jurisdictions where there is no underlying copyright or sui generis database right.
All CC licenses are non-exclusive: creators and owners can enter into additional, different licensing arrangements for the same material at any time (often referred to as “dual-licensing” or “multi-licensing”). However, CC licenses are not revocable once granted unless there has been a breach, and even then the license is terminated only for the breaching licensee.
There are also videos and comics that offer visual descriptions of how CC licenses work.
Attribution CC BY
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND
This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Creative Commons licenses are drafted to be enforceable around the world, and have been enforced in court in various jurisdictions. To CC’s knowledge, the licenses have never been held unenforceable or invalid.
CC licenses contain a “severability” clause. This allows a court to eliminate any provision determined to be unenforceable, and enforce the remaining provisions of the license.
Creative Commons licenses expire when the underlying copyright and similar rights expire.
Note that the relevant rights may expire at different times. For example, you may have a CC-licensed song where the rights in the musical arrangement expire before the rights in the lyrics. In this case, when the copyright in the music expires, you may use it without being required to comply with the conditions of the CC license; however, you must still comply with the license if you use the lyrics.