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How to Get a Creative Commons Attribution-License for Images

Updated on July 18, 2014

Understanding the Creative Commons Attribution License attribution is important if you do not want to get sued for copyright infringement. It is also important if you want to preserve or enhance your reputation as an online publisher. Nobody wants to be branded as a plagiariser in the online world where reputations can be made or broken in a matter of seconds.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization whose aim is to increase the amount of creative work that is available to the public for free. It does this by providing a platform where creators of original work can give permission for their use under certain conditions. Creative commons license will inform the user under what circumstances they may use the work.

By using a creative commons license, the creator of the work still maintains the copyright. What happens when people use a Creative Commons license is that they can change the terms of their copyright from the default “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. The creators of original work still maintain the copyright but allow others to copy, distribute and reuse under certain conditions.

Creative Commons Attribution Licenses

There are a number of licenses available under Creative Commons depending on what the licensor wants to achieve. Some licenses allow someone to modify and reuse the work for commercial purposes while other do not.

One must be very careful to use the work in the right manner under the license to avoid infringing on the creator’s copyright. There are six main categories of licenses that are given under Creative Commons. Each license has a varying degree of restrictions and the list below start from the least restrictive to the most restrictive:

Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY License

The Creative Commons license that comes with this attribution is the least restrictive of all. The license gives the user the right to redistribute, repurpose and share for commercial or non-commercial purposes alike. Under the terms of this license, you must

  • credit appropriately
  • give a link to the license
  • indicate when and if any changes have been made

The license prohibits you from taking any measures, legal or technological that will restrict others from using the work in a manner that is not restricted in the license itself.

Creative Commons Attribution -NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

Under this license, you can share the work through any medium for commercial or non-commercial purposes. However, you may not change the original form of the work and if you do, you cannot redistribute it under any circumstances.

Creative Commons ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

The license allows you to share, remix and distribute through any medium for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Should you remix or repurpose the work in any way, you must share it using similar license terms as were specified under the original license. You must also give credit and provide a link and details of any changes that you may have made.

Creative Commons NonCommercial- ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

The license allows sharing of the work in the original or repurposed form for non-commercial purposes only. Should you remix or repurpose the work, you should share it under similar terms as in the original license. As for the other licenses, you must attribute appropriately, provide a link to the license and state whether any changes have been made.

Creative Commons Noncommercial (CC BY-NC)

You may share and adapt the work under this license for non-commercial purposes. The original creator of the work shall not restrict you if you follow the terms of the license. You are also not allowed to restrict others in ways that are contrary to the original license.

Creative Commons Attribution –NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

This is the most restrictive license of all the Creative Commons licenses and it does not allow remixing or using for commercial purposes. If the work is remixed, it cannot be distributed in the new form under this license.

Other general terms under the Creative Commons license

  • If any part of the material is under Public Domain, you may not have to comply with those terms
  • You must always give credit to the originator of the work
  • You must always state the nature of the changes you have made to the original work

Creative Commons license is an easy way for content providers who want an easy way of finding free material that does not infringe on the rights of the copyright holder. Make sure to follow the guidelines given above when using creative commons materials because the license does not override the copyrights of the owner. The creative commons license is a way for the owner of copyright to state under which circumstances it may be used.

To easily search for materials online with the appropriate Creative Commons license, you can install the CC Search on your browser. This tool can be found at the Creative Commons portal and is easy to install.


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    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 4 years ago from Sweden

      Thank you for sharing this, I have not realized what this is about before.