What Is Creative Commons License – The Complete Definitive Guide

What Is Creative Commons License – The Complete Definitive Guide

This is a complete guide to Creative Common License.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn all about:

  • What Creative Commons is
  • Creative Commons License
  • Creative commons License Conditions
  • Types of Creative Common License
  • How To Get A Creative Commons License
  • How To Find Creative Commons Content
  • Lots more

Take a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy this guide ?

When I was just starting on the internet, I thought that you can just use any content you come across. The fact remains that most people do download and use them because the creator or the copyright holder can’t find out or something like that.
Content you can download and use on your project include but is not limited to : images, music and videos. You can only download and use these contents if the copyright owner have given you permission to do so. When you talk of downloading content and using it on your project, you have to be familiar with Creative Common Terms. Having a good knowledge and understanding of Creative Common License will save from stepping on a territory you shouldn’t.
That’s why I have taken my time to research on this topic. What I found out and what you should know know about Creative commons is going to be our focal point here.

You can skip to your main area of interest using the table of contents to save time but I will advise you read all because no knowledge is a waste.
Before we start, I will like to use a real life experience. There was this video tutorialvideo tutorial I recorded with my phone.
When I was recording the video, there was a music playing on the background. That was actually when I didn’t know anything about copyright. I uploaded the video on YouTube and the next minute, I received a shocking email alert from YouTube. Experienced bloggers will understand better when it comes to receiving email from Google ?

See The Screenshot of the email I received below:

Screenshot of my email

After receiving this email alert, I started my journey into Creative Common and how to use it.
Enough of my experience, let’s now look into the topic matter which is Creative Commons License .

I will start with a definition…

What Is Creative Commons? Creative Commons Definition:

Creative Commons (CC) is the name of an American non-profit organization or company that gives copyright license to the public free of charge. The license released by this company is what is known as Creative Commons License. While the company was founded in 2001, the License was first given in 2002.

Creative Commons Symbol

The main reason for the establishment of this organisation is to provide content creators like Youtubers, vloggers etc. an easy way that explains how they can use contents provided by others. As long as you adhere strictly to the terms and conditions associated with a particular content, you won’t have any problem of copyright infringement.

It is important to know that the person providing the content under Creative Common License is know as Licensor (copyright owner) and the person who will copy or use the content is know as Licensee.

Creative Common provides different types of content like sound, images, videos and lots more. If you will like others to use your work under Creative Common License, I will tell you how to go about it later on this guide.

You don’t have to confuse copyright with Creative Common. You need to also understand that copyright, creative Commons License and copyleft are not the same. We are going to look into it one after the other in this guide.

Creative Commons License vs Copyright

Creative Commons licenses are applied by the copyright owner to their own works. It is the type of license that is mostly used in the world. There are four conditions attached to this license and there are six types of Creative Commons License, we will look into that later in this guide.

Copyright protect creative or intellectual works. It is the exclusive right that the owner of an intellectual property has. It help protects the creator’s work from unauthorized duplication or use. Copyright gives you right to authorize others to reproduce the work, distribute copies to the public by sale, or display publicly.

Before I talk how Creative Commons License and copyright works or are related, I will like you to understand some important facts.
Creating a content automatically makes you the copyright owner but if it is not the same as Registered copyright.

Registered Copyright is the a protection provided by the U.S. government (and many other governments) for an ‘original’ tangible work. With registered copyright, you can seek a claim for copyright infringement. If you will like to learn more about advantages of registered copyright, see Destination Legal  .

Now coming to Copyright and Creative Commons License, here is how it goes:

Copyright law gives creators certain kinds of control over their creative work. If people want to use copyrighted work, they often have to ask for permission from the creator. Creative Commons works within copyright law. It allows creators to grant permission to everyone in the world to use their work in certain ways.

What it means is that Creative Commons License not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. To make it more understandable; Creative Commons offers free copyright licenses that allows anyone to legally use “some rights reserved” contents all for free. CC offers free copyright licenses that allows anyone to legally use “some rights reserved” contents all for free.  In short term: Creative Commons and Copyright are Friends 

Now how about Copyleft?

Copyleft is the practice of giving users of a work the right to freely distribute and modify the original work, but only under the condition that the derivative works be licensed with the same rights.
It is usually associated with software. In software terms, Copyleft is the specific stipulation that when distributing software the user will be able to copy it freely, examine and modify the source.It is similar to the “Share Alike” stipulation of the Creative Commons licenses. ( Check below to see share alike)

If you want to know more about copyleft, consider : Copyright vs Copyleft 

Creative Common Conditions And License Types

There are four conditions in Creative Commons License. It is the combination of these conditions that will determine the type of License. However, there are six possible Creative Commons License type and each has image that represents it. The same goes with the conditions, you can read and study the images below and take note of them.

The Four Conditions Of Creative Commons License

BY – Attribution required.


This condition is present present in almost all creative commons Licenses. What this condition means is that you have to give credit to the author of the work the way that they stated it. You have to make it in a way that clearly show the creator does not endorse your work.

NC – no commercial use.

This condition allows you to use the work the content for anything (unless associated with any other condition) except for commercial purposes. You can copy, distribute, display, modify and use the content but not for commercial purpose unless you seek permission first.

ND – no derivative works.

The main thing you cannot do when this condition is present is that you cannot modify the work unless you have gotten permission first. You can copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of the content but cannot modify.

SA – Share Alike

This condition permits you to copy and modify the work but can distribute it under the same condition. That is you have to share it the same way you got it without adding your own condition. If you must add your own condition, you must the seek the permission of the original creator first.

The Six Types of Creative Common License

Six Types Of Creative commons License

Now that we know the four possible conditions of Creative Commons License, we are going to know more by exploring the six types of License under CC.

Before we look into the six types of CC License, it is important we talk about a particular type of License that is equivalent to public domain. Content the is found in the public domain is one that has expired copyright.
So the type of License am talking about here is CC0.


This is not a license technically because the owner gives all rights to their work and allow anyone in the world to use it for any purpose without asking. Thought it is equivalent to content in public domain but it differs in the sense that content on public domain has expired copyright.


CC-BY – Attribution

This type License allows people modify and share the content, and can be use for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the original creator. This is least restrictive compared to others below.

CC-BY-SA – Attribution ShareAlike

This is type of License is similar to copyleft. It allows you to copy, modify, adapt, and build upon the work even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the author and license your new creations under the same identical terms as provided by author. This is the type of License that is being used by Wikipedia.

CC-BY-ND – Attribution-NoDerivs

This gives you right to reuse the work for for any purpose, including commercially and credit must be give to the author but you can’t share modifications. In other words, you can’t share the adapted form with others without first seek for the permission of the author.

CC-BY-NC – Attribution-NonCommercial


This type of License allows you to use the content any way you want except for commercial purpose and you must attribute to the author. What it means is that you can remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially and you don’t have to relicense derivative works with the same conditions, but you must provide attribution.

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


This type of License allows you use and modify the work in non-commercial ways. However, you must give credit to the author and license new creations with identical terms.

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


This most restrictive type of Creative Common License. It only allows you to download the works and share them with others as long as you credit the author, but you can’t change the works in any way or use them commercially.

Out of these six types of Licenses, the last two are the most restrictive because they are not allowed for Commercial use. It is important to take note of those that are most restrictive and stick to the License while using it.

How to Get a Creative Commons License

Getting a Creative Commons License very easy and simple. The best part is that Creative Commons provides the License free of charge unless you want to donate to them with the donation button on the website.
So let’s now see how to get a Creative Commons Licenses following simple step-by-step guide.
Before we see how to get the licence, you have to consider the followings:

Things Consider Before You Get A Creative Commons License

  • Understand how CC License works (I have explained it in this guide)
  • Do you have the right to the content? If yes then your good to go.
  • Is the work copyrightable?
  • Know exactly what you are licensing that is know the type of License you want to get
  • Make sure the work is not a Hardware or Software. (You can check Software License to know more)
  • Remember that CC License must not be applied to a material in the public domain.
  • Remember that CC License is not revocable
  • To know more go to Get a License page and Considerations for licensors and licensees page.

Now let’s see how to get a Creative Commons License after you must have considered what I listed above.

  • First, go to the Creative Commons Choose a License page.
  • Go to License Features
  • Choose the licence features you want
  • Notice that as you choose the features, the License badge charges according to what you choose
  • Now scroll down to “Have A Webpage” section and copy the code provided if you want
  • You can now paste the code on the webpage where you have your work.


How to Find Creative Commons Content

Finding a Creative Commons Content really depends on the platform you are using to find the content.
The first platform I will recommend is the Creative Commons Search Engine.

How To Find Creative Commons Content On Google
I have taken time to explain how you can find Creative Commons content using Google. You can go to this page to see how to find Creative Commons content using Google.

The link I provided above also shows: How To find Creative Commons Content Using CC Search Engine and How To Find Creative Commons content On YouTube

For more on how to find Creative Commons content, check out top places to find Creative Commons contents.

FAQ About Creative Commons

Q: What is Creative Commons and how does it work?

A: Creative Commons (CC) is the name of an American non-profit organization that gives copyright license to the public free of charge. This implies that anyone using content Licensed under CC, must abide by the terms provided by the copyright owner of the content.

Q:What does a Creative Commons Licence allow you to do?

A: As a Licensor, CC License allows you to define how you want to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon your work.
As a licensee, CC License allows to use a work created by others provided you follow the conditions given by the author of the content.

Q: Can you make money with Creative Commons?

A: You can only use a Creative Commons content to make money if and only if the License type is not; Attribution-NonCommercial, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs. What it means is that if the License type is; Attribution,Attribution ShareAlike or Attribution-NoDerivs ,then you can use it to make money.

Q: Can I earn from Creative common videos on YouTube?

A: Yes, you can earn money from a Creative Commons videos on YouTube depending on the License type that comes with the video. As long as the conditions did not with anything non-commercial, you can make money from such video.

Q: Is Creative Commons free to use?

A: Creative Commons is a non-profit organization which means that they provide the services free of charge unless you want to donate to them. That simply tells you that CC is free to use as long as you abide by the conditions.

Q: Is public domain same as Creative Common?

A: Though people confuse public domain with Cretive Commons but they differs. Public Domain means the copyright has expired. There was once a copyright, and the time has past where the copyright no longer applies. Works in the Public Domain are free to use. Creative Commons is a type of license made available by an artist/author for use of their work. Creative Commons are also free to use but you have to abide by the licence type provided.

Q: Is Creative Commons copyright free?

A: Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. CC offers free copyright licenses that allows anyone to legally use “some rights reserved” contents all for free.


I hope this guide really walk you through the journey of Creative Commons and its related topics. If you have anything you want to ask about Creative Commons or related to it, you can use the comment box and I will be happy to answer you. If you find this page helpful, consider sharing it to your to your friends,honestly It will make my day?

Subscribe to MX TV

Do you find useful? Click here to give us five stars rating!

Leave a Comment

No one has commented yet. Be the first!
Leave a Reply