License Types – Creative Commons (2022)

Anatomy of a CC License

There are six different CC licenses, designed to help accommodate the diverse needs of creators while still using simple, standardized terms.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the CC license suite
  • Describe the different CC license elements

Big Question – Why it Matters

(Video) Creative Commons licences explained

Why are there so many different Creative Commons licenses?

There is no single Creative Commons license. The CC license suite (which includes the six CC licenses) and the CC0 public domain dedication offer creators a range of options. At first, all of these choices can appear daunting. But when you dig into the options, you will realize the spectrum of choices is fairly simple.

Personal Reflection – Why it Matters to You

Think about a piece of creative or academic work you made that you are particularly proud of. If you shared that work with others, would you have been okay with them adapting it or using it for commercial purposes? Why or why not?

Creative Commons licenses are standardized tools, but part of the vision is to provide a range of options for creators who are interested in sharing their works with the public rather than reserving all rights under copyright.

(Video) What is Creative Commons? Creative Commons License Types Basics Explained

The four license elements—BY, SA, NC, and ND—combine to make up six different license options.

All of the licenses include the BY condition. In other words, all of the licenses require that the creator be attributed in connection with their work. Beyond that commonality, the licenses vary whether (1) commercial use of the work is permitted; and (2) whether the work can be adapted, and if so, on what terms.

The six licenses, from least to most restrictive in terms of the freedoms granted reusers, are:

License Types – Creative Commons (1)

The Attribution license or “CC BY” allows people to use the work for any purpose (even commercially and even in modified form) as long as they give attribution to the creator.

License Types – Creative Commons (2)The Attribution-ShareAlike license or “BY-SA” allows people to use the work for any purpose (even commercially and even in modified form), as long as they give attribution to the creator and make any adaptations they share with others available under the same or a compatible license. This is CC’s version of a copyleft license, and is the license required for content uploaded to Wikipedia, for example.

License Types – Creative Commons (3)The Attribution-NonCommercial license or “BY-NC” allows people to use the work for noncommercial purposes only, and only as long as they give attribution to the creator.

(Video) What are Creative Commons Licenses?

License Types – Creative Commons (4)The Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license or “BY-NC-SA” allows people to use the work for noncommercial purposes only, and only as long as they give attribution to the creator and make any adaptations they share with others available under the same or a compatible license.

License Types – Creative Commons (5)The Attribution-NoDerivatives license or “BY-ND” allows people to use the unadapted work for any purpose (even commercially), as long as they give attribution to the creator.

License Types – Creative Commons (6)The Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license or “BY-NC-ND” is the most restrictive license offered by CC. It allows people to use the unadapted work for noncommercial purposes only, and only as long as they give attribution to the licensor.

To really understand how the different license options work, let’s dig into the different license elements. Attribution is a part of all CC licenses, and we will dissect exactly what type of attribution is required in a later unit. For now, let’s focus on what makes the licenses different.

First, commercial vs. noncommercial use.

NonCommercial (“NC”) As we know, three of the licenses (BY-NC, BY-NC-SA, and BY-NC-ND) limit reuse of the work to noncommercial purposes only. In the legal code, a noncommercial purpose is defined as one that is “not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” This is intended to provide flexibility depending on the facts surrounding the reuse, without over specifying exact situations that could exclude some prohibited and some permitted reuses.

It’s important to note that CC’s definition of NC depends on the use, not the user. If you are a nonprofit or charitable organization, your use of an NC-licensed work could still run afoul of the NC restriction, and if you are a for-profit entity, your use of an NC-licensed work does not necessarily mean you have violated the term. For example, a nonprofit entity cannot sell another’s NC licensed work for a profit, and a for-profit may use an NC licensed work for non commercial purposes. Whether a use is commercial depends on the specifics of the situation. See our CC NonCommercial Interpretation page here for more information and examples.


The other differences between the licenses hinge on whether, and on what terms, reusers can adapt and then share the licensed work. The question of what constitutes an adaptation of a licensed work depends on applicable copyright law (for a reminder, see Unit 2). One of the exclusive rights granted to creators under copyright is the right to create adaptations of their works or, as they are called in some places, derivative works. (For example, creating a movie based on a book, or translating a book from one language to another.)

(Video) Creative Commons License Conditions And Types Explained In Best Way

As a legal matter, at times it is tricky to determine exactly what is and is not an adaptation. Here are some handy rules about the licenses to keep in mind:

  • Technical format-shifting (for example, converting a licensed work from a digital format to a physical copy) is not an adaptation regardless of what applicable copyright law may otherwise provide.
  • Fixing minor problems with spelling or punctuation is not an adaptation.
  • Syncing a musical work with a moving image is an adaptation regardless of what applicable copyright law may otherwise provide.
  • Reproducing and putting works together into a collection is not an adaptation of the individual works. For example, combining stand-alone essays by several authors into an essay collection for use as an open textbook is a collection and not an adaptation. Most opencourseware is a collection of others’ open educational resources (OER).
  • Including an image in connection with text, as in a blog post, a PowerPoint, or an article, does not create an adaptation unless the photo itself is adapted.

License Types – Creative Commons (7)NoDerivatives Two of the licenses (BY-ND and BY-NC-ND) prohibit reusers from sharing (i.e. distributing or making available) adaptations of the licensed work. To be clear, this means anyone may create adaptations of works under an ND license so long as they do not share the work with others in adapted form. This allows, among other things, organizations to engage in text and data mining without violating the ND term.

License Types – Creative Commons (8)ShareAlike Two of the licenses (BY-SA and BY-NC-SA) require that if adaptations of the licensed work are shared, they must be made available under the same or a compatible license. For ShareAlike purposes, the list of compatible licenses is short. It includes later versions of the same license (e.g., BY-SA 4.0 is compatible with BY-SA 3.0) and a few non-CC licenses designated as compatible by Creative Commons (e.g., the Free Art License). You can read more about this here, but the most important thing to remember is that ShareAlike requires that if you share your adaptation, you must do so using the same or a compatible license.

Public domain

License Types – Creative Commons (9)

License Types – Creative Commons (10)

In addition to the CC license suite, Creative Commons also has an option for creators who want to take a “no rights reserved” approach and disclaim copyright entirely. This is CC0, the public domain dedication tool.

Like the CC licenses, CC0 (read “CC Zero”) uses the three-layer design—legal code, deed, and metadata.

(Video) Creative Commons Licenses, Explained

The CC0 legal code also uses a three-pronged legal approach. Some countries do not allow creators to dedicate their work to the public domain through a waiver or abandonment of those rights, so CC0 includes a “fall back” license that allows anyone in the world to do anything with the work unconditionally. The fall back license comes into play when the waiver fails for any reason. And finally, in the rare instance that both the waiver and the “fall back” license are not enforceable, CC includes a promise by the person applying CC0 to their work that they will not assert copyright against reusers in a manner that interferes with their stated intention of surrendering all rights in the work.

Like the licenses, CC0 is a copyright tool, but it also covers a few additional rights beyond those covered by the CC licenses, such a non competition laws. From a reuse perspective, there still may be other rights that require clearance separately, such as trademark and patent rights, and third party rights in the work, such as publicity or privacy rights.

Creative Commons legal tools were designed to provide a solution to complicated laws in a standardized way, making them as easy as possible for non-lawyers to use and apply. Understanding the basic legal principles in this Unit will help you use the CC licenses and public domain tools more effectively.


Which are Creative Commons license types choose four answers? ›

There are six different Creative Commons licenses: CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-NC-ND.

What are the 4 types of Creative Commons license conditions? ›

Each CC license is made up of one or more of four license elements: Attribution (BY), Share Alike (SA), NonComercial (NC) and No Derivatives (ND).

How many types of Creative Commons licenses are there? ›

There are six different CC licenses, designed to help accommodate the diverse needs of creators while still using simple, standardized terms.

What are three types of Creative Commons Licence? ›

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.

Does Creative Commons license mean I can use it? ›

Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.

What are the 4 licensing activities? ›

The licensable activities covered by the Act are:
  • The sale of alcohol by retail#
  • The supply of alcohol in club premises.
  • The provision of regulated entertainment.
  • The provision of late night refreshment.

What are the 4 licensable activities? ›

Licensable activities
  • The retail sale of alcohol,
  • the supply of alcohol in clubs,
  • the provision of late night refreshment, and.
  • the provision of regulated entertainment.

What is the most common license type? ›

Class D. Although it may seem odd to jump into the middle of the alphabet to start, a Class D license is the most common type of driver's license. It is what most people on the road have.

What are the examples of creative license? ›

A lyricist, for example, might use the phrase "for you and I" instead of the correct form, "for you and me," in order to rhyme. A visual artist might distort a shape, change a color, or rearrange objects in a work in order to create a more pleasing or evocative image.

What are the 3 open source license models? ›

This category of software license is the most popular open source license type. The best-known examples of this category are the Apache License, the BSD License, and the most-common MIT License.

What are the 3 P's of licensing? ›

The 3 P's of collegiate licensing are protection, promotion, and profit. have an interest in protection.

Are all Creative Commons license the same? ›

Every Creative Commons license works around the world and lasts as long as applicable copyright lasts (because they are built on copyright). These common features serve as the baseline, on top of which licensors can choose to grant additional permissions when deciding how they want their work to be used.

What are license models? ›

A license model is a combination of various parameters that define how software can be used by a customer. License models map different license attributes into logical groups, which define how a protected application is to be deployed and used.

What are the 3 main types of software? ›

There are different types of software that can run on a computer: system software, utility software, and application software.

What are the types of license? ›

There are three types of driver's license in the country: student permit, non-professional permit and professional permit.

What happens if you break the Creative Commons licensing? ›

Creative Commons licenses only apply if the user adheres to all the relevant terms. When a work's CC license terms are breached, the use of the image becomes unlicensed, and the copyright is infringed. Any breach of the license terms therefore terminates the rights granted under the license.

Why do people choose Creative Commons Licences? ›

A Creative Commons licence enables a copyright holder to keep their copyright but allows people to copy and distribute the copyrighted work provided they meet the stipulations in the license. Depending on the chosen Creative Commons licence users can be permitted to: copy. distribute.

What are 5 licensing objectives? ›

Preventing crime and disorder; Securing public safety; Preventing public nuisance; Protecting and improving public health; and.

What is license and example? ›

formal permission from a governmental or other constituted authority to do something, as to carry on some business or profession. a certificate, tag, plate, etc., giving proof of such permission; official permit: a driver's license. permission to do or not to do something.

What are the 3 phases of licensing process? ›

The GDL consists of three stages identified by the type of license: learners permit, intermediate (provisional) license, and full license. The three stages of the GDL system include specific components and restrictions to introduce driving privileges gradually to new drivers.

What is the licensing law? ›

Licensing law means a law under which the bureau issues a license, registration, or other authorization to practice an occupation or profession or render other services.

Which of the six licenses is the most accommodating? ›

The Attribution (CC BY) 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.

Who grants premises license? ›

Applications for premises licences must be made to the licensing authority within whose area your premises is situated. This will normally be your local authority.

Which Creative Commons license is best? ›

CC BY. This is the least restrictive license. It allows the public to freely distribute your work and also remix it, for commercial or noncommercial purposes. Attribution to you is required.

What are the 7 Creative Commons licenses? ›

What are the different types of CC licenses?
  • Attribution CC BY. ...
  • Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA. ...
  • Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND. ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC. ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA. ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND.
18 Jul 2018

What are the two types of licenses? ›

The first one is for light vehicles and the second is for heavy vehicles. The written examinations are almost similar except for the fact that there are more questions that relate to big, heavy vehicles under the "heavy" exam category.

When can Creative Commons be used? ›

A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that the author has created.

What creative license means? ›

A creative commons license is a license issued by the copyright owner to allow anyone in the world to use his or her copyright work in any manner consistent with that license.

How do I use a Creative Commons license? ›

a) Manually: Insert a copy of the appropriate CC icon from: Add some text, e.g.: “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License” Insert a hyperlink from your licensing text to the appropriate license.

What is the most common open source license? ›

The MIT License is one of the most commonly used and permissive open source licenses. Under this license, you can essentially do anything with the software as long as you include the original copyright and license notice in the copy of the software. It is also compatible with many copyleft licenses, including the GPLs.

How do I choose an open source license? ›

The first question is if your code will be part of a broader open source ecosystem — many open source communities have a few favorite licenses they use. If it will be, consider using the licenses vetted and accepted by your community. If you're on your own, first ask yourself how you want others to use your software.

What is the most popular license for free software? ›

The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the archetype for free software licenses. The key point of the GPL is that it's “sticky.” If you use GPL-licensed software in a modified form or incorporate it into your product, you have to make it available under the same terms.

What are the two 2 types of licensing agreement? ›

Specific Types of Licensing Agreements

Trademark licenses: Outlines how you may use a trademark. Patent licenses: Outlines your right to sell, use, make, distribute, and export a product that's patented.

How many major licenses are there? ›

There are two primary types of software licenses: commercial and open-source.

What is a license strategy? ›

Licensing is a transfer-related market entry strategy. It involves a company (known as the licensor) granting permission to a company in another country to use its intellectual property for a defined time period.

Does Creative Commons mean I can use the image? ›

Images licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Why is Creative Commons better than copyright? ›

If people want to use copyrighted work, they often have to ask for permission from the creator. Creative Commons works within copyright law. It allows creators to grant permission to everyone in the world to use their work in certain ways.

Can I use Creative Commons images commercially? ›

CC BY lets people distribute and remix content, even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the original author. CC BY-SA allows people to republish your content, including derivatives, even for commercial purposes. However, they must credit you and relicense the new content under the same terms as yours.

Which are Creative Commons license types quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (7)
  • Attribution CCBY. ...
  • Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) ...
  • Attribution No-Derivs (CC BY-ND) ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA) ...
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-No-Derivs (CC-BY-NC-ND) ...
  • No Rights Reserved (CC0)

What are the 4 types of copyright? ›

« Back to FAQs What are the different types of copyright?
  • Public Performing Right. ...
  • Public Performance License. ...
  • Reproduction Right. ...
  • Mechanical Licenses. ...
  • Synchronization License.

What are the Creative Commons rules? ›

This license allows others to copy, edit, build upon your work and redistribute the material in any medium or format – even for commercial purposes. Other users can do this providing they give credit, provide a link to the license and indicate if they changed your work.

What are the three types of licensing? ›

Types of licence
  • Operating Licence. An Operating Licence permits a licensee to operate specific gambling facilities, for example. ...
  • Personal Licence. For those responsible for managing and operating the gambling facilities permitted under an operational licence. ...
  • Premises Licence.

How do Creative Commons licenses work? ›

CC licences allow the creator of the work to select how they want others to use the work. When a creator releases their work under a CC licence, members of the public know what they can and can't do with the work.

What is license example? ›

Licensing agreements generate revenues, called royalties, earned by a company for allowing its copyrighted or patented material to be used by another company. Some examples of things that may be licensed include songs, sports team logos, intellectual property, software, and technology.

Why creative Common is used? ›

Creative Commons empowers creators to give implicit permission to everyone to use, share, and remix their work without needing to ask in each instance. Creative Commons licenses can be multi-layered, allowing more or less freedom.


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