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Key Points:

What is Copyright?

What is Creative Commons?

Types of Creative Commons Licenses

How to Use Others Creative Commons Content

What is Copyright?
Copyright is a way to protect the original works of authorship of published
and unpublished work, usually expressed in a tangible way. On a high
level these types of works are protected:

literary works

musical works, including any accompanying words

dramatic works, including any accompanying music

pantomimes and choreographic works

pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

motion pictures and other audiovisual works

sound recordings

architectural works
Several of these categories are directly applicable to content made
available online. When you create something truly original: a song, a
photo, a story, a blog post or a video, you automatically have an all-rights
reserved copyright for that work.

Note that copyright is different from a patent, which is attributed to an

original method of doing something, a process or a physical invention; or
a trademark, which is almost exclusively a visual combination of a logo,
slogan, and/or image.
There is no international copyright though most countries respect and
protect copyrights through international agreements such as treaties and
conventions. Copyright is a delicate issue and if you are serious about
protecting your rights you might want to speak to an intellectual property
lawyer in your country.
But what if youd like to make your work available for people to
enjoy, share, re-use, adapt or modify?
Lets look at something that is being used all over the world, and in fact is
requirements: Creative Commons.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons, while a relatively new term since its birth in 2001 is by
definition is a non-profit organization, but the name is more widely
associated with the concept of Creative Commons as a way to extend
copyright to promote legal sharing and modification of original works. Heres
the goal of the organization:
increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific
content) available in the commons the body of work that is
available to the public for free and legal sharing, use repurposing, and
Creative Commons is a way for you to take your intellectual property
original content like photos, writing, designs, videos and more, and assign
rights to it to be shared with the community and the world. It is not an
alternative to copyright: it works in parallel with copyright.

Creative Commons licensing can protect the original copyright and level of
permissions the author chooses. It can also perpetuate these rights (or not,
depending on the authors choice) and encourages and facilitates re-use and
sharing. Most importantly, it helps the author retain rights if they so choose,
and it helps the user to know exactly what the author wants done with his
content and how they can utilize it. As CC calls it, Some Rights reserved.
If instead you prefer to give up all rights to your work, it becomes No
Rights Reserved and part of Public Domain in which no law restricts the
way the works are used. Public domain is more commonly attributed to
works whose copyright licenses have expired, usually dozens of years after
the authors death. Each country has its own laws and validity lengths for
patents, trademarks and copyrights.
Here are the Creative Commons licenses. The licenses are iterations of
living licenses that are updated frequently and the version of the license
attributed to that work will be depicted with a number like 2.5. Attributing
the most current form of the license available is always recommended.
Each license has three components:

a Commons Deed which briefly explains the rights and rules of the

the Legal Code which should suffice as legal backing in the case
you need to go to court and is available in several languages

and the accompanying license image button that you can

display on your site or where youre publishing your content.
The most basic Creative Commons license chosen by authors is that of
Attribution being credited for the work if its re-used. Other attributes
are then added and mixed depending on the authors desire.
Here are those elements directly from the Creative Commons license page:

Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your
copyrighted work and derivative works based upon it but only if they
give credit the way you request.

Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform

your work and derivative works based upon it but for noncommercial
purposes only.

No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and

perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon

Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a
license identical to the license that governs your work.
For example, an author combining the desire to make work available for noncommercial means but would like others to continue sharing their creations
as well might offer choose the following license:

Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)

Be sure to read and understand the full list of Creative Commons
licenses made by combining the elements above.
Ready to choose a Creative Commons License?

Not sure which license is best for you? Use the Creative Commons
License builder to help you figure that out.

Once youve decided which license youre interested in, get that
licenses image button and copy theHTML code

and insert the code on your website or where youre publishing the
How to Use Others Creative Commons Content
Not publishing any work to be shared through Creative Commons, but youd
like to utilize, share or build upon others work? Here are a few tips:

Look for Creative Commons Licenses: Most authors that are using
Creative Commons will know you know here are a few key places to look: in
the sidebar, at the bottom of the page, in the About page, or even on the
Contact page. If you dont see the information youre looking for, dont
hesitate to write the author about the type of license they have on their
work. They will appreciate your respect and effort.

Understand the License Details: You found the license, but make
sure you understand each component of the license by clicking-through and
reading the details of the license so you know the works opportunities and
limitations before you start using it.

Re-use, Modify and/or Distribute Accordingly: The author has

gone to the trouble to select and display the ways their work can be shared
and modified, now respect it! Make sure to re-distribute the work with the
same license that was given to the original if Share Alike is specified.

Let the Author Know: Let the author know with more than just a link
back or listing their name tell them you enjoyed their work and appreciated
the fact that they made the available to the community.

Make Your Own Work Available: Now that youve shared or

modified someone elses work, why not contribute to the cycle by
distributing some of your own work via Creative Commons