Licenses and Examples

We also provide tools that work in the “all rights granted” space of the public domain. Our CC0 tool allows licensors to waive all rights and place a work in the public domain, and our Public Domain Mark allows any web user to “mark” a work as being in the public domain.

Attribution CC BYimage

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.

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Examples:

  • PLOS: In 2003, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) launched a nonprofit scientific and medical publishing venture that provides scientists and physicians with high-quality, high-profile journals in which to publish their most important work. Under the Open Access model, PLOS journals are immediately available online, with no charges for access and no restrictions on subsequent redistribution or use, as long as the author(s) and source are cited, as specified by the Creative Commons Attribution License. PLOS publishes approximately 50,000 CC BY articles every year. Says former PLOS CEO Peter Jerram, “The work of Creative Commons ensures that [other projects] can use the papers we publish without requiring the additional time and cost that asking special permissions would require.” See Featured Platform: Public Library of Science & The Power of Open: Public Library of Science
  • Saylor.org: Saylor.org is dedicated to the development of free, openly licensed courses on a variety of subjects. Saylor is unique in that it builds on the best existing open educational resources on the web to develop high quality courses for self learners. Saylor has also run textbook competitions with $20,000 awards for the production (or buyout) of openly licensed textbooks under CC Attribution. All Saylor-hosted content is under a CC BY license, which means that other CC BY-licensed OER may be incorporated into its courses.
  • Chris Zabriskie / Chris Zabriskie / CC BY

    Chris Zabriskie: Chris Zabriskie is an artist who specializes in cinematic soundscapes, ambient piano compositions, and minimal synth music. Originally a user of the the CC Attribution-Noncommercial license, Chris decided to drop the Noncommercial clause from his work, opting for CC BY. He explains his reasoning: “There are 48 hours of new video being uploaded just to YouTube every minute. Somebody, somewhere, always needs music for their project. Let people do what they want with your music, and they’ll promote you.” Zabriskie describes how his decision paid off in ways he never expected: “I’ve scored several feature films, a number of shorts, and am doing a bunch of other contract work for people and projects all around the world.” His inbox was flooded with requests from fellow creators, and he keeps a list of clients that includes the Cartoon Network, New York Public Library, Gizmodo, and Mashable alongside independent feature films and shorts. See Jason Sigal on Chris Zabriskie

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Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SAimage

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.

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Examples:

  • Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons sites allow content to legally flow in and out with ease, enabling one of the great cultural resources of the digital revolution to legally interact with an endless array of works from similar cultural institutions. Says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, “Creative Commons is about building infrastructure for a new kind of culture — one that is both a folk culture, and wildly more sophisticated than anything before it.” Much of the media that accompanies Wikipedia articles, such as photos and illustrations, are also licensed under CC BY-SA or a more liberal license.
  • Arduino Mini / David Mellis / CC BYArduino:

    Arduino is an open-source computing chip “that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer.” It consists of a microcontroller board (the hardware) and the language that programs the board (the software). The software is under an open source software (OSS) license, and the reference designs for the hardware are under a CC BY-SA license, because Arduino creators believe “that people should be able to study our hardware to understand how it works, make changes to it, and share those changes.” Thanks to CC BY-SA, anyone can modify the designs, reproduce as many microcontroller boards as they like, and make money off of the modifications — as long as the derivative designs are published under the same license. Because everything about Arduino is open, Arduino chips have become the de-facto computing chip for open-source hardware makers and have become the processing power behind numerous creations, including open source synthesizers, MP3 players, guitar amplifiers, and even high-end voice-over-IP phone routers. See Wired on Arduino and Open-Source Computing.

  • P2PU: The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. By leveraging the Internet and open educational resources (OER), P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning while enabling high-quality, low-cost education opportunities — in everything from web programming to copyright for educators. The P2PU community chose CC BY-SA as the default license for its platform in order to enable maximum reusability and simultaneously encourage participation and contributions back to the community. P2PU produced a report on its commmunity process and reasoning for choosing the CC BY-SA license.

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Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-NDimage

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

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Examples:

  • Drupal Security Report: Drupal, a free and open source software package for publishing and sharing content, released its security report under a CC BY-ND license. The report is written by experts in Drupal security and “handles the important task of maintaining security in systems that are built to take input from a variety of sources.” Drupal cites several reasons for choosing BY-ND, including protecting the credit of its sponsors and maintaining the appropriate context for the security report.
Behance-Logo-200
Behance logo
  • Behance: Behance is a major platform and community for designers and other creatives to be seen; its testimonials page has dozens of stories, both of designers who got work by sharing their portfolios on Behance and of big-name companies who used it to find talent. Most interestingly, Creative Commons licensing is the default on Behance. When you select “All Rights Reserved” for a project, you’re warned that “This will limit your exposure.” Many creatives opt to license their works under CC BY-ND, including this set of labels and packing for an exclusive line of white wines, and severaltypefaces. Says Founder and CEO Scott Belsky, “Over 75% of content published on Behance is CC-licensed… the power is shifting away from agencies and middlemen to the creatives themselves. It’s an exciting trend, but it depends on a continued culture of transparency and sharing.” See Featured Platform: Behance
  • GNU and FSF: The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free software, in particular the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants, and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its websites (fsf.org and gnu.org) are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. The FSF licenses both websites under the CC BY-ND license, particularly recommending this license for its works of opinion.

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Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NCimage

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.

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Examples:

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Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA image

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.

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Examples:

  • MIT Open CourseWare : MIT OpenCourseWare has been releasing its materials — web versions of virtually all MIT course content — under a CC BY-NC-SA license since 2004. Today, MIT OCW has over 2000 courses available freely and openly online for anyone, anywhere to adapt, translate, and redistribute. MIT OCW have been translated into at least 10 languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian. In 2011, MIT OCW celebrated its 10th anniversary, having reached 100 million individuals, and announced MITx, an initiative to provide certification for completion of its courses. The OpenCourseWare concept has now spread to hundreds of universities worldwide.
  • Cory Doctorow / Jonathan Worth / CC BY-SA

    Cory Doctorow: Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow is a writer, blogger, and science fiction author with a vast amount of work under his name. As an early adopter of Creative Commons, Cory has produced many publications under CC licenses since 2003, including Little Brother under CC BY-NC-SA which spent 4 weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list. In Cory’s words , “I use CC for my speeches, for my articles and op-eds, and for articles and stories that I write for ‘straight’ magazines from Forbes to Radar. My co-editors and I use CC licenses for our popular blog, Boing Boing , one of the most widely read blogs in the world. These licenses have allowed my work to spread far and wide, into corners of the world I never could have reached.” See Case Study: Cory Doctorow & Commoner Letter: Cory Doctorow

  • Jonathan Worth: Jonathan works from London and New York as a freelance commercial photographer. He licenses his photography under the CC BY-NC-SA license. His work has appeared in numerous publications and exhibitions, most recently on permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery. His work developing new and sustainable working practices has won acclaim from a wide audience, as have his lectures; both on his work, and on leveraging the social web. It was in recognition of this work that in 2009 Jonathan was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. See Interview: Jonathan Worth & The Power of Open : Jonathan Worth

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND image

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.

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Examples: