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Breaking down the CC Licenses

Distinguish between the different parts of a CC license and what they mean.


Creative Commons licenses are made up of four conditions that can be mixed and matched to create six different license combinations. The licenses also come in three formats: human-readable, lawyer-readable, and machine-readable.

The following video from CC New Zealand is a great five minute introduction to all the parts of a CC license.

After watching the video, if you still want more detail about how the licenses work and what the spectrum of licenses looks like, CC has a simple, concise page that explains it all in text.


Here is a quick exercise to test your understanding of CC licenses. Below are a few different kinds of icons that all mark works with different CC licenses. For each one, explain in a sentence or two what you can and cannot do with works that someone has shared under that license. Share your sentences, and any questions that come up, below.


Don’t know which icon represents which license? Try selecting different options with CC’s license chooser tool.