Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons licenses are several copyright licenses released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001.

Many of the licenses, notably all the original licenses, grant certain "baseline rights",[1] such as the right to distribute the copyrighted work without changes, at no charge. Some of the newer licenses do not grant these rights.

Creative Commons licenses are currently available in 43 different jurisdictions worldwide, with more than nineteen others under development.[2] Licenses for jurisdictions outside of the United States are under the purview of Creative Commons International.



Original licenses

The original set of licenses all grant the "baseline rights". The details of each of these licenses depends on the version, and comprises a selection of four conditions:


Mixing and matching these conditions produces sixteen possible combinations, of which eleven are valid Creative Commons licenses and five are not. Of the five invalid combinations, four include both the "nd" and "sa" clauses, which are mutually exclusive; and one includes none of the clauses. Of the eleven valid licenses, the five that lack the "by" clause have been phased out because 98% of licensors requested Attribution, though they do remain available for reference on the website.[3] This leaves six regularly used licenses:

  1. Attribution alone (by)
  2. Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc)
  3. Attribution + NoDerivs (by-nd)
  4. Attribution + ShareAlike (by-sa)
  5. Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivs (by-nc-nd)
  6. Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (by-nc-sa)

For example, the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license allows one to share and remix (create derivative works), even for commercial use, so long as attribution is given.[4]


All current licenses "require you to attribute the original author". You have to give attribution to "the best of your ability using the information available".[5] Generally this implies the following:

Works protected

Work licensed under a Creative Commons License is protected by copyright applicable law.[6] This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work protected by copyright law, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites.

However, the license may not modify the rights allowed by fair use or fair dealing or exert restrictions which violate copyright exceptions. Furthermore, Creative Commons Licenses are non-exclusive and non-revocable.[7] Any work or copies of the work obtained under a Creative Commons license may continue to be used under that license.

In the case of works protected by multiple Creative Common Licenses, the user may choose either.

Other licenses

A number of additional licenses have been introduced, which are more specialized:

Besides licenses, Creative Commons also offers an easy way to release material into the public domain through the Public Domain Dedication, as well as Founder's Copyright, through which the work is released into the public domain after 14 or 28 years.

A recent project was announced[8] called CC0,[9][10] a legal tool for waiving as many rights as legally possible, worldwide. CC0 improves and extends the current CC public domain dedication, by adding a waiver statement and attempting a universal rather than the current dedication's U.S.-centric approach.

Legal and technical work on the CC0 waiver was completed on 1 December 2008. Launch is pending.[11]

Retired licenses

Due to either disuse or criticism, a number of previously offered Creative Commons licenses have since been retired[12], and are no longer recommended for new works. The retired licenses include all licenses lacking the Attribution element[13] other than the Public Domain Dedication, as well as two licenses not allowing non-commercial copying:

List of projects that release contents under Creative Commons licenses

See also



External links