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Types of Licenses

Creators choose a set of conditions they wish to apply to their work.

Attribution Attribution (by)

All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.

ShareAlike ShareAlike (sa)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.

NonCommercial NonCommercial (nc)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.

NoDerivatives NoDerivatives (nd)

You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

Licensing Types” by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

6 Combinations

The use of the conditions above can be combined to create one of six specific licenses regarding use:

  1. Attribution CC BY
  2. Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA
  3. Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND
  4. Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
  5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA
  6. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND

Public Domain Mark & Designation

The following applications are not considered to be licenses, as copyright is not claimed. Read about the differences below.

PDM Public Domain Mark
Use the Public Domain Mark if the material is already in the public domain, indicating that it is no longer restricted by copyright.

CC0 CC0 Designation
Use the CC0 designation if you want to designate your work to the public domain, relinquishing your rights under copyright law. You can consider this designation as “no rights reserved.”

Applying a License

If you wish to apply a Creative Commons license to something you created, consider the following before selecting your license:

  • the material needs to be eligible for copyright protection and you need to be the copyright holder
  • once you apply a license, it is irrevocable – you can later remove or change the license, but if others have already copied or used the item under its earlier license, their use remains protected.

Creative Commons License Chooser Tool

The license chooser tool, offered by the Creative Commons, creates a machine-readable license based on your specifications.

Marking Your Material with the License

When you’ve carefully reviewed the license types and chosen the one you’re comfortable applying to your material, the next step is to mark your material with the information. It is highly recommended that you use the Creative Commons License Chooser to guide you through the process.

  • Online
    • After selecting your license using the license chooser tool, copy and paste the automatically-generated HTML code into the appropriate page HTML on your website.
  • Offline – the links below take you to an example for the specified format

Using Creative Commons Materials

Before using an item that has a Creative Commons license, you’ll want to review the license guidelines to ensure that your anticipated use is acceptable. If you determine that your anticipated use is not permitted by the license guidelines, you’ll need to contact the license holder to obtain special permission. An alternative solution would be to search for suitable replacements that offer the license type you need.


If you use an item marked with a Creative Commons license, it’s important to give attribution according to the license conditions. As a rule of thumb, good attribution includes the original item’s title, author, source (where it can be found), and license. More information about attribution, including examples, can be found here.


How to give attribution” by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Searching for CC Materials

Try the Creative Commons Search tool.

Jump To


View a list of frequently-asked-questions on the Creative Commons website.

License Chooser Tool

Build a CC license with this nifty tool.

Finding CC Materials

Start with the Creative Commons Searcher.