Last Updated: 05 Jun, 2023     Views: 16

All artistic or literary works created by a human are subject to copyright, which means you cannot make a copy or share a copy without the permission of the person who owns the copyright.

Creative Commons is a way to provide permission in advance, so people who want to use or share a work do not have to contact the copyright holder to ask for permission.

There are six "conditions" under which you can share a work with a Creative Commons (CC) license. Each condition makes the licence more restrictive (which means there are fewer things you can do without asking for permission):

  • BY: reuse, redistribute, remix for any purpose - but always acknowledge the author and respect their moral rights
  • SA: share this and anything made from this with the exact same conditions the author has stipulated
  • NC: don't use this for commercial purposes
  • ND: don't make any changes

A work with the licence CC BY NC, for example, means you can make and share copies - and even make changes to it - but you must acknowledge the author and you cannot use it for commercial purposes (that is, you can't sell what you make using this work).

There are six ways these conditions are combined to make the licences:

  • CC BY (the most open licence - you can use this however you like, as long as you acknowledge the author)
  • CC BY SA
  • CC BY NC
  • CC BY NC ND (the most restrictive licence - you can share this freely, but little else)

In addition, there are two other options you may see:

  • CC 0 (CC Zero - the creator has given this work to the Public Domain, and requires no attribution*)
  • Public Domain (this work is no long covered by copyright)

The link attached to this FAQ will take you to a page where you can learn more about the individual licences.

You must respect the wishes of the creator, and follow the conditions given in the licence, and you cannot give a CC licence to a work if you do not own the copyright.

If you wish to use someone's work in a way that is not permitted with the CC licence, you will need to contact the copyright holder to ask for permission.

If you are using multiple works with different CC licences, be aware that the licences do not always work together, and you will need to choose works with compatible licences.

* Even if no attribution is required, in an assignment you will still need to cite your sources.