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Creative Commons

Overview of Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that created a set of simple, easy-to-understand copyright licenses. These are legally enforceable licenses that are meant to be simple to implement and easy to understand.  Creative Commons can be used to provide access to creative work in a standardized fashion.

Why Use CC?

Supplementing your existing copyright with a Creative Commons license can help you manage your copyrights and share your work without losing your rights.  What, though, are some of the specific benefits to you as a creator of artistic or scholarly works?

Embedding CC licenses into web content means it will be discoverable by CC searches, providing more exposure for you as a creator and for your work.  For scholarly works, this can lead to more citations.

By mixing and matching the different CC license attributes (i.e. NC, ND, SA), you can encourage the uses you want without the hassle of permissions.  For example, if you want other users to be able to reinterpret your work as long as they don't use it for any commercial endeavors, you could use a CC BY-NC license.  There is even a CC-license creator that allows you to pick which attributes you'd like to include using plain language.

You can allow others to either build upon, remix, or reinterpret your work and research while retaining credit for your contributions.  This helps to foster a community of shared culture and scholarly research.

Finally, if you're involved in instruction, CC licenses can be especially helpful when developing or sharing course materials.  You can find and share learning tools, lesson plans, and more with other educators through CC licensing and searching.

Remember that adding a Creative Commons license to your work doesn't take the place of the copyright that you already hold.  For more information on Creative Commons licenses and copyright, please see

Advantages of Creative Commons

There are many advantages associated with using Creative Commons licenses. Below are a few highlighted advantages via For additional benefits, see benefits of CC.

  • CC provides global recognition
    • An increasing amount of digital content sites, such as Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo, allow contributors to apply CC licenses during the upload process. These generic licenses and jurisdiction-tailored licenses are applicable internationally. See more at, CC Affiliate Network.
  • CC licenses are easy to understand
    • Creative Commons makes it easy to maintain copyright, while allowing others to reuse content. Creators can select the CC licenses that best fits their need through the license generator.
  • CC offers flexibility
    • Creative Commons offers a variety of licensing options and allows creators to select an appropriate license, instead of a one-size-fits-all term of use agreement.
  • CC supports a culture of sharing
    • Using CC licenses can be an effective way of encouraging norms of sharing and reuse within an online community.

[Source: Molls, Emma. Iowa State University Library:]