What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Our legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms; those who want to make creative uses of works; and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis. Our vision is to help others realize the full potential of the internet. CC has affiliates all over the world who help ensure our licenses work internationally and who raise awareness of our work.
Although Creative Commons is best known for its licenses, our work extends beyond just providing copyright licenses. CC offers other legal and technical tools that also facilitate sharing and discovery of creative works, such as CC0, a public domain dedication for rights holders who wish to put their work into the public domain before the expiration of copyright, and the Public Domain Mark, a tool for marking a work that is in the worldwide public domain. Creative Commons licenses and tools were designed specifically to work with the web, which makes content that is offered under their terms easy to search for, discover, and use.
Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world. We unlock the full potential of the internet to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity.
With a network of staff, board, and affiliates around the world, Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses to make a simple and standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work–on conditions of your choice.
How do I properly attribute material offered under a Creative Commons license?
All CC licenses require users to attribute the creator of licensed material, unless the creator has waived that requirement, not supplied a name, or asked that her name be removed. Additionally, you must retain a copyright notice, a link to the license (or to the deed), a license notice, a notice about the disclaimer of warranties, and a URI if reasonable. For versions prior to 4.0, you must also provide the title of the work. (Though it is not a requirement in 4.0, it is still recommended if one is supplied.)
You must also indicate if you have modified the work—for example, if you have taken an excerpt, or cropped a photo. (For versions prior to 4.0, this is only required if you have created an adaptation by contributing your own creative material, but it is recommended even when not required.) It is not necessary to note trivial alterations, such as correcting a typo or changing a font size. Finally, you must retain an indication of previous modifications to the work.
CC licenses have a flexible attribution requirement, so there is not necessarily one correct way to provide attribution. The proper method for giving credit will depend on the medium and means you are using, and may be implemented in any reasonable manner. Additionally, you may satisfy the attribution requirement by providing a link to a place where the attribution information may be found.
While the attribution requirements in the license are the minimum requirement, we always recommend that you follow the best practices for the kind of use you are making. For example, if you are using scientific data marked with CC0, you are not required to give attribution at all, but we recommend that you give the same credit you would give to any other source—not because the license requires it, but because that is the standard for letting others know the source of the data.
The CC website offers some best practices to help you attribute properly, and the CC Australia team has developed a helpful guide to attributing CC-licensed material (.pdf) in different formats. Note that the attribution and marking requirements vary slightly among license versions. See here for a chart comparing the specific requirements.
Do I need to be aware of anything else when providing attribution?
Yes. You need to be careful not to imply any sponsorship, endorsement, or connection with the licensor or attribution party without their permission. Wrongfully implying that a creator, publisher, or anyone else endorses you or your use of a work may be unlawful. Creative Commons makes the obligation not to imply endorsement explicit in its licenses. In addition, if the licensor of a work requests that you remove the identifying credit, you must do so to the extent practical.
Additionally, when you are using a work that is an adaptation of one or more pre-existing works, you may need to give credit to the creator(s) of the pre-existing work(s), in addition to giving credit to the creator of the adaptation.
Do I always have to attribute the creator of the licensed material?
You must attribute the creator when you provide material to the public by any means that is restricted by copyright or similar rights. If you are using the material personally but are not making it or any adaptations of it available to others, you do not have to attribute the licensor. Similarly, if you are only distributing the material or adaptations of it within your company or organization, you do not have to comply with the attribution requirement. Learn more about when compliance with the license is not required.