Skip to Main Content

Creative Commons

This guide will explain Creative Commons licenses.

Applying & Enforcing a CC License

Choosing and Using a CC License

Before you apply a CC license to your work, there are a few things to first consider:

  1.  CC licenses and CC0 are irrevocable. The legal license will apply to the work until the copyright has expired. 
  2.   You must control or own the copyright. Only the rights holder can apply a CC license. You cannot license something that is in the public domain or that was created as a work for hire.  
  3. How do you want people to share or reuse your work? There are six different license options that allow for a wide range of activities.  Do you want to allow for adaptations? Do you want any images to be incorporated into Wikipedia? Do you want to release all of your rights?  

The CC License Chooser can help you to select the right license for your purposes. 

Once you have determined the license you wish to use, applying it is relatively easy.  

At minimum you just need to indicate which license you are using.  

However, it is recommended that you also provide a link or write out the url to the license deed.  Depending on the format of your creation, you can do this in the copyright notice, as a bumper on a video, or spoken aloud for an audio work.  

If you are wishing to donate your work to the public domain, then you can visit the CC0 Waiver page.  

For more information visit the CC wiki page on Marking Your Work with a CC License and the CC website page on how to Share Your Work

Enforcing a CC License

CC licenses are designed to make them legally enforceable around the world.  Most disputes have been easily resolved outside of the legal system.  And of the few instances that have resulted in a case, no court has questioned the validity of a CC license.  

If you have found that someone has used your CC licensed work incorrectly or without attribution, their right to use your work ends automatically as soon as they have violated the terms of the license.  This means they could be liable for copyright infringement unless they have a separate permission or are relying on a different copyright exception to use your work.  

Under version 4.0 of the CC licenses, users who violate the terms have 30 days to correct the violation in order to have their license rights reinstated. 

This FAQ from CC will outline what you can do if someone does not comply with the license.  

It is important to note that there are difference versions of the CC licenses legal codes.  The more recent version at the time of this guide is version 4.0.  

Most users will want to use the licenses correctly, however, CC licenses do not take away your rights and privileges outlined in copyright law.