Creative Commons

Definition of Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses for creators to legally share, remix, and reuse their work. These licenses help establish a balance between full copyright restrictions and public domain, fostering an accessible and collaborative environment for individuals to create and share their work. The Creative Commons licenses enable creators to retain their copyright while allowing others to use their work under specific conditions, such as attribution, non-commercial use, or share-alike terms.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Creative Commons” is:/krēˈātiv ˈkämənz/

Key Takeaways

  1. Creative Commons licenses provide an easy and standardized way for creators to grant permissions for others to use, share, and build upon their work while still retaining ownership.
  2. There are several types of CC licenses, each with different levels of permissions and restrictions, allowing creators to choose a license that best aligns with their goals and preferences for their work.
  3. Using Creative Commons licensed works can help promote a collaborative and open culture, encouraging the sharing of ideas and knowledge while still respecting and acknowledging the original creators.

Importance of Creative Commons

The term Creative Commons is important because it represents a global movement that promotes the sharing and collaboration of creative works in the digital era while ensuring authors maintain proper control over their content.

Creative Commons provides licenses that allow creators to clearly communicate how others can use their material legally without obtaining explicit permission, enabling the free distribution and adaptation of an extensive range of digital content.

This fosters innovation, education, cultural exchange, and the overall growth of human knowledge, making the Creative Commons an essential component of the modern technological landscape.


Creative Commons (CC) serves as a crucial instrument in today’s digital landscape with the primary purpose of supporting and promoting the sharing of creative works, such as images, music, and literature, while maintaining a balance between the interests of creators and users. By providing a range of standardized licenses, this non-profit organization simplifies the process of granting permissions for creators, while at the same time allowing users to access, share, and build upon the works legally.

Consequently, CC cultivates a more vibrant and diverse creative culture, fostering collaboration, innovation, and access to knowledge. The core strength of Creative Commons lies in its versatility and adaptability to different types of content, offering various licensing options to cater to the individual preferences of creators.

These licenses range from Public Domain Dedication (CC0), which maximizes open access, to Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND), which places restrictions on the commercial use or modification of the work. By enabling tailored licensing, CC bridges the divide between traditional copyright, which largely restricts the usage of work, and a more open culture that empowers both creators and users to benefit from and contribute to the growing digital commons, together shaping the future of creativity and knowledge in the digital age.

Examples of Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a licensing system that allows creators to grant certain permissions for the use, sharing, and modification of their work while still retaining their copyrights. Here are three real-world examples of how Creative Commons has been used in technology:

Wikimedia Commons: A vast online repository of images, video, and audio files, Wikimedia Commons uses Creative Commons licenses to allow individuals and organizations to freely use and share media without violating copyrights. Many of these media files are contributed by users and can be used for educational, personal, or commercial purposes, as long as they follow the terms of the respective CC licenses.

Open educational resources (OER): CC licenses have encouraged the growth of OER, which are educational materials that can be freely accessed, used, and shared by the public. Many universities, institutions, and organizations use Creative Commons licenses to share their educational resources, such as textbooks, teaching materials, and online courses. Examples include well-known platforms like MIT OpenCourseWare and Khan Academy, which employ CC licenses to promote free and accessible education.

Open-source software: Creative Commons has also contributed to the open-source software movement by providing licenses that promote the sharing, collaboration, and modification of original software code. For instance, Inkscape, an open-source vector graphics editor, allows contributors to share their works under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, which enables users to use and adapt the software as long as appropriate credit is given and any new creations are shared under the same license.

Frequently Asked Questions about Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization that creates, supports, and advocates for the use of a variety of legal tools to help creators easily share and protect their works. These tools are designed to allow creators to specify conditions and permissions for the use of their works, helping them to build a rich, collaborative, and open digital environment for everyone.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons licenses are a set of standardized, easy-to-understand copyright licenses that allow creators to choose how others can use, share, and build upon their works. These licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to use and share your creative work, under certain conditions specified by you.

How do I choose the right Creative Commons license for my work?

Choosing the right Creative Commons license depends on your preferences and goals for your work. The Creative Commons website provides a step-by-step guide and a license chooser tool to help you pick the appropriate license for your needs. Once you’ve chosen a license, you’ll receive a code that you can add to your work to clearly display the license terms.

Can I use Creative Commons licensed works for commercial purposes?

Not all Creative Commons licenses allow for commercial use. Licenses that include the “NonCommercial” (NC) condition do not permit commercial use of the work. However, licenses without the “NonCommercial” condition do allow for commercial use as long as the other conditions of the license are followed. It’s essential to read and understand the terms of the specific license attached to a work before using it for commercial purposes.

Do I need to attribute the creator when I use a Creative Commons licensed work?

Yes, you should attribute the creator when you use a Creative Commons licensed work, unless the work is in the public domain or the creator has specifically waived this requirement. Attribution means giving appropriate credit to the author, providing a link to the specific license used, and indicating if any changes were made to the original work. Creative Commons provides guidelines for proper attribution on their website.

Related Technology Terms

  • Open Licensing
  • Copyright Permissions
  • Attribution
  • Non-Commercial Use
  • ShareAlike

Sources for More Information


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