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This guide provides copyright information and links, but not legal opinion, which are relevant to the University community

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (CC) is a standardised system for licensing the use of copyright materials. It is a copyright-based system of licences or "permissions."

Creative CommonsDepending on the permissions the licenser allows, the licensee can copy, publish in digital form, publicly perform whether all or a substantial part of it, on specified baseline rights:

  • Attribute (acknowledge) the authorship
  • Not alter terms of licence unless you obtain permission from the creator to override any restrictions
  • Link to licence from copies of work
  • Not use technology (digital rights management), to restrict other licensees' uses of work.


Creative Commons LicenseCC Symbol by Jo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence. Based on a work at by Kalexanderson.

Finding CC Material

There is much content available that you can use:

Using Creative Commons Material

You see a photograph, cartoon, video clip, textual document or other work under a Creative Commons licence and wish to use it. What can you do?

The most basic licence allows you to copy, distribute, display, perform, edit, remix and build upon the work for commercial or non commercial purposes, provided you attribute the creator, additional creators and link to the source

Often, however, a CC licence will have one or more additional elements which carry further licensing terms:

Symbol    Abbreviation Licensing terms
Non Commercial

NC -Non Commercial

For non-commercial purposes only
No Derivatives ND - No Derivatives You can only redistribute verbatim (in whole and unchanged) copies of the work

Share Alike

SA - Share Alike If you edit, remix or build upon the work, you need to license the new creation under the identical terms


Example: Look at the Creative Commons Licence logo underneath the "CC Symbol" photograph in the "What is Creative Commons" box.  The BY and SA symbols means you can copy, remix, adapt and build on the work as Jo has done, provided you distribute it under the same licence term like she has.

This text is a derivative from Creative Commons - About the Licenses webpage by Creative Commons / CC BY 3.0.

Finding CC Images & Video

Images under CC Licences

Spring Booties by Shandilee under a CC BY 2.0 licence

Tiny Fireworks

Tiny Fireworks by v1ctory_1s_m1ne  is under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence

Disney - You See Mickey... (Explored) by Express Monorail is under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence

Brindabella Night Show

The Brindabella Light Show by ~Prescott (Prescott Pym) under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence

Attributing CC Materials

The same principles apply to providing attribution across all CC licences. You should:

  • Credit the creator
  • State the title of work
  • Provide the url where the work is hosted
  • State the type of licence it is available under and provide a link to the licence so others can find the licence terms
  • Keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work.

Do I have to attribute the work in a particular style? No. There is flexibility in the way that you convey this information. There are plenty of examples throughout this Creative Commons guide on how to attribute CC material, for instance, the images on the left hand side.

What if I am attributing offline? Where your reuse is offline, such as in a printed assignment, book or as part of an exhibition, you should apply the same principles. Since you cannot link, spell out the licence type and any urls in full.

What if I cannot find all of the details? You do not have to include any information that you cannot find. However, you should try to locate the relevant information for the material you are planning on using. If you need help, contact a librarian.

How do I attribute a work I've adapted? If you remix the work in any way, for example, by cropping it, adjusting brightness or replacing words, you have created a 'derivative work' of the original. A simple way to attribute the original work is "This work is a derivative of..." and attribute the work as you normally would. If your derivative work involves more than one original works, you could state "This work includes material from the following..." and list each original work, preferably stating the order you are listing them in (such as sequentially).

This text is a derivative from Attributing Creative Commons Materials factsheet by Creative Commons Australia & the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation / CC BY 2.5.