Creative Commons provide an increasingly popular form of open licensing options. From

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved".

Share, reuse, and remix — legally


This unit is here to explore Creative Commons licensing and its implications for academic and educational use. Copyright (or copyleft) aspects apply to many activities such as original research, composition, photography, cartography, musical works and many other endeavors that need to be "protected" in some way. We shall use this resource to explore and discuss the various types and kinds of CC licenses and research and compare them with other copyright and copyleft devices. We may also explore the technical and social ramifications of the introduction of the Commons mindset to the Internet world.

Explanations of the licenses




The following licenses have been offered and used:

  • Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
    This is the least restrictive license. It allows unrestricted commercial, remixing, and all other permissive uses as long as licensing terms are complied. A CC BY material can be adapted into other materials that would be subject to additional copyright restrictions.[1]
  • Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
    Same purpose as CC BY. However, the license requires a licensee to use the same license or a compatible one to adapt a material into others. Moreover, it forbids a licensee from adding one's own copyright restrictions without permission for an adaptation of the licensed content.
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND)
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND)
    This is the most restrictive license. It allows neither commercial use nor derivatives without the copyright holder's permission.
  • Creative Commons Zero
    This license automatically waives all rights of a copyright holder and releases a work into the public domain worldwide.

Wikimedia projects accept CC BY and CC BY-SA because they are considered free licenses under the definition of Free Cultural Works. Other CC licenses are considered non-free; text content licensed under one of the "non-free" CC licenses cannot be imported into one of Wikimedia projects, so they may be suitable elsewhere. However, images licensed under one of the "non-free" CC licenses are acceptable only if they are also concurrently licensed under a free license, like CC BY. Otherwise, images licensed under only one "non-free" CC license are unacceptable.

Current Wikiversity license(s)


Wikiversity now uses the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license which is very similar to the GFDL. Both licenses allow re-use of a work as long as attribution is given to the author(s) and as long as derivative works are also licensed copyleft.

Reasons for switching from the GFDL to a CC license


The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license is better suited for wikis; the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) was designed for software manuals. Furthermore, you can use CC-BY-SA works as part of other works with various licenses; you cannot do the same thing with GFDL works.

In addition, Wikivoyage doesn't use GFDL but instead uses solely CC BY-SA for similar reasons.

In 2018, the Wikimedia Commons community decided to restrict usage of GFDL for non-software works. While such works licensed under GFDL before 15 October 2018 still remain, the ones licensed under only GFDL on or after that date are no longer accepted. Instead, if GFDL is to be used for non-software works, such work must be also licensed under a free license, like CC BY-SA.

Reasons for using CC BY-SA instead of CC BY


While CC BY is the least restrictive CC license, any content remixing or adapting the CC BY material would be subject to additional copyright restrictions and/or be claimed as the adapter's own exclusive work, especially if Wikipedia were to use CC BY.[2] Moreover, as long as the adapter follows the licensing terms, a case of copyright infringement would be impossible.[3] Furthermore, if Wikipedia would use CC BY, other editors would face difficulties on using the more-restricted material adapted from Wikipedia content. "ShareAlike" license allows reuse of free content but also requires licensees to use the same license or a more compatible one. It also is used by most Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia, to limit how the content can be adapted into other materials and to make content stay free and easier to reuse. A CC BY material can be adapted into a CC BY-SA material.[4] However, CC BY is incompatible with CC BY-SA,[5] so either the same author must switch from CC BY-SA to CC BY to re-license the same work, or a CC BY-SA material cannot be adapted into a CC BY material.

On the contrary, Wikinews uses CC BY 2.5 Generic, and Wikidata uses CC Zero, which are allowed as "exceptions" under WMF's Terms of use.

License Versions


Licenses in versions before the version 4.0 International are less clear and not as international-friendly as the latest version. Indeed, the terms and conditions of the international (Generic/Unported) licenses of the previous versions are in mind based on the law of the United States. The pre-4.0 versions contain localized ports for specific jurisdictions, like Germany. However, the latest version, 4.0 International, lacks ports; the International edition is intended for multiple jurisdictions. Some official translations for the licenses in the latest version are available.

Moral rights


Previous versions before version 3.0 do not address those rights. They are addressed in some ports of the version 3.0 and in version 4.0. Creative Commons does not license those rights, but the licenses in the version 4.0 asks a Licensor to agree to waive and/or not assert those rights "to the limited extent necessary to allow You to exercise the Licensed Rights, but not otherwise."

However, some ports of version 3.0 say that moral/personality rights would remain unaffected, like Hong Kong[6] and Germany.[7]

Plans to transition from CC BY-SA 3.0 to CC BY-SA 4.0


According to a footnote from w:Wikipedia:FAQ/Copyright, "CC BY-SA 4.0 is not backwards compatible with CC BY-SA 3.0. Therefore, mixing text licenses under 3.0 and 4.0 would be problematic." However, transition from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported to Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International was proposed and then discussed, especially at meta:Talk:Terms of use/Creative Commons 4.0. No official progress to upgrade the CC BY-SA license has been made yet. As of now, the current licenses for text content at Wikimedia project are CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported and GFDL.

Commentary articles


See also

  Search for Creative Commons on Wikipedia.


  1. "Combining and adapting CC material" from Creative Commons FAQ page
  2. meta:Terms of use/Creative Commons 4.0/FAQ#Why does Wikipedia use a "sharealike" license like CC BY-SA?
  3. "What can I do if I offer my material under a Creative Commons license and I do not like the way someone uses it?" from Creative Commons FAQ
  4. "Can I include a work licensed with CC BY in a Wikipedia article even though they use a CC BY-SA license?" from Creative Commons FAQ page
  5. "Compatible Licenses" at Creative Commons website
  6. CC BY 3.0 Hong Kong, section 4(c)
  7. CC BY 3.0 Germany, section 4(d)