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What is the Creative Commons license? Everything you need to know

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Though plagiarism wasn’t exactly unheard of before the digital era, the Internet has made it exceedingly easy to do so. It is nigh impossible to know of the range of your work, much less to keep track of where and how it is used.

One person certainly cannot hope to both share their work with the world and take sole credit for it. However, on the Internet, we can collectively accomplish this using Creative Commons licenses.

What is the Creative Commons license?

The Creative Commons licenses and tools are essentially protocols that forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved”.

It allows people to copy, distribute, and use original content non-commercially. However, the content creators still retain the copyright. This allows the creators to earn credit for their work while also allowing the content to reach a broader range of people.

Every Creative Commons license is valid around the world. However, it is only applicable so as long as the original copyright lasts.

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Types of Creative Commons licenses

  • CC BY: This license allows users to use the content as they wish, even commercially, so as long as they credit the owner for the work. It is recommended for ensuring maximum dissemination of the content. The attribution BY indicates that those who use original content must credit the creator in the way they request. This is common to all the licenses. One can take it for granted that every license ensures that the owner gets credit for the work.
  • CC BY-SA: It allows users to commercially or non-commercially use the content only if they license the offshoot creations under identical terms. SA stands for “ShareAlike”.
  • CC BY-ND: ND stands for “NoDerivs” (No derivatives). This implies that others can use the content for any purpose, including commercial, but they cannot adapt or change it in any way.
  • CC BY-NC: Users can remix, tweak, and modify content freely but cannot use these new creations for commercial purposes. NC stands for “NonCommercial”.
  • CC BY-NC-SA: Users can use modified content for non-commercial purposes if and only if the modified work is licensed under identical terms.
  • CC BY-NC-ND: Users can neither modify original work nor use it for commercial purposes; they can only download and share it. This is perhaps the most restrictive of the six Creative Commons licenses.

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How to use Google to find Creative Commons open content

What is the creative commons license? Types and how to find CC contentTo find a document:

  • Search for the document you require as usual.
  • On the results page, click on Settings → Advanced Search.
  • Fill in the details as per requirement. Then, choose the appropriate license from the usage rights box.
  • Hit Advanced Search to get the desired results.

To find an image:

  • Enter your search term into the search bar
  • Go to Google Images
  • Click on Tools → Usage Rights → Labelled for reuse

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Where can you find CC content?


Educational resources




Enjoy the free content, but make sure you check out the specific Creative Commons license tagged alongwith the content to make sure that you don’t bend the rules and get yourself in some legal trouble.

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Akshaya R

Akshaya R