Copyright Creative Commons - Information and Records Management - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Creative Commons

Creative Commons allows you to share, remix and reuse legally.

How Creative Commons describes itself

“Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

The infrastructure we provide consists of a set of copyright licenses and tools that create a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates.

Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright — which makes their creative, educational, and scientific content instantly more compatible with the full potential of the internet. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. We’ve worked with copyright experts around the world to make sure our licenses are legally solid, globally applicable, and responsive to our users’ needs.”

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons Licenses

CC BYAttribution

  • license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation
  • most accommodating of licenses offered
  • recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

CC BY SAAttribution-ShareAlike

  • 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
  • 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
  • the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

CC BY NDAttribution-NoDerivs

  • license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author/creator.

CC BY NCAttribution-NonCommercial

  • license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although 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 SAAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

  • license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.

CC BY NC NDAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

  • license is the most restrictive of the Creative Commons 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.

To find Creative Commons material

Creative Commons Search

  • In Google go to ‘Advanced Search’
  • Expand ‘date, usage rights, numeric range and more’
  • Select the usage rights you desire from the drop down menu


Free images

  • You can search this large image site for creative commons material. This is found under the advanced search function.

flickr search

  • Searches images across the internet and displays the licensing requirements under each image.

How to license your work under Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons website - Marking Creators

  • Publish to a website, in print, audio files, images and film

Creative Commons website - license picker

  • Choose how you want to license your work

Creative Commons website - Before licensing

  • Things to think about before using a CC license

Creative Commons website - Publish on other platforms

  • Publish your work to other CC platforms

Please take into account the University’s Intellectual Property Policy (PDF, 108KB) when publishing work in any format. The relevant sections are section 2 for staff and section 3 for students.

How to attribute a Creative Commons licensed work

All CC licenses require attribution. To clearly reference:

  1. Credit the author, licensor and/or other parties (such as a wiki or journal) in the manner they specify. If there is nothing specified then simply be as clear as possible.
  2. The title of the work. If there is no title you can say “This work by…” or “Untitled by…”
  3. The URL for the work.
  4. Provide the URL for the CC license.
  5. Keep intact any copyright notices for the work. If there is no notice, then don’t worry, many works will not have anything specified.

Bixentro via Flickr width=
Copyright is a pierced heart by
Bixentro via
creative commons license

NB: Consider informing the creator of your use. Licenses do not require you to inform a creator that you are using a CC-licensed work, but it is a nice thing to do and most people are pleased to hear that their work is being used – that’s why they use these licenses in the first place.

The Scholars’ Copyright Project

Creative Commons aims to make scholarly research and journals more widely available on the Web. The world’s largest Open Access publishers in the world all use CC licenses to publish their content online. Today, 10% of the world’s entire output of scholarly journals is CC licensed.

Open access sites: