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Creative Commons

Looking for images, video, music, and other content you can share, reuse, or remix? Looking to share content you created? Consider the Creative Commons licenses.

Copyright Questions?

The University of Michigan Library Copyright Office provides help with copyright questions for University of Michigan faculty, staff and students. Please email us with questions or visit our website for more information.

Legal Advice

The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Michigan, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, the lawyer referral services operated by the Washtenaw County Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan may be helpful to you.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses are public licenses. A public license permits certain uses of copyrighted materials by the public at large. If a work you wish to use has been released under a public license, you do not have to seek additional permission from the rightsholder in order to do the things authorized by the license. However, you do still need to follow the license terms. For example, the license may require attribution to the original author or it may forbid commercial uses. Other public licenses include the licenses on the lists of free software licenses maintained by the Free Software Foundation and the licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative

The following descriptions of the Creative Commons licenses come from About the Licenses by Creative Commons and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Attribution: CC BY

CC BY Icon

  • This 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. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
  • CC BY License Deed
  • CC BY Legal Code

Attribution-ShareAlike: CC BY-SA

CC BY-SA Icon

  • This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
  • CC BY-SA License Deed
  • CC BY-SA Legal Code

Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND

CC BY-ND Icon

Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC

CC BY-NC Icon

  • This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don't have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
  • CC BY-NC License Deed
  • CC BY-NC Legal Code

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA

CC BY-NC-SA Icon

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: CC BY-NC-ND

CC BY-NC-ND Icon

  • This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
  • CC BY-NC-ND License Deed
  • CC BY-NC-ND Legal Code

Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication

Creative Commons also offers a Public Domain Dedication, known as CC0. You can use CC0 to waive your copyright in a work. For more information about CC0, consult Creative Commons's CC0 FAQ.

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Get Creative!

This 2002 video from Creative Commons explains why Creative Commons was founded and what it does.