Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a global nonprofit organization with staff and affiliates across the world. The goal of Creative Commons is to make it easy to access, build on, and help grow the public commons of cultural, educational, and scientific works - that has existed for thousands of years. To facilitate that goal Creative Commons developed a simple, standardized and legally robust set of tools that allows institutions and individuals to grant copyright (©) permissions to their works. Before Creative Commons, there was no standardized way to do this.

Wanna Work Together? by Creative Commons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Transcript and more formats available at https://creativecommons.org/about/videos/wanna-work-together/.

Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons licences make it possible for works to have some (i.e. not all) rights reserved. The licences allow others to copy and reuse work without seeking permission, as the creator has already authorised this in advance. This removes the barrier that stands between a creative work and a prospective user of that work. It is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to locate the owner of a work to seek their permission. If approval to copy is given in advance, the process is simplified. There are six main Creative Commons licences. These are formed by combining the 4 licence conditions. A creator will identify their conditions enabling the work to be used in various ways (e.g. Attribution Share Alike). For example, a Creative Commons licence may insist only that the creator of a work be attributed or credited when the work is reused, without demanding anything further. Or, an artist or author may combine Creative Commons licence conditions to allow users to adapt their work, share it with others, or use it for non-commercial purposes.

Using Creative Commons licensed materials for teaching and learning

It can be difficult to locate suitable material for use for illustrative purposes, or to convey concept or meaning. The problem is that material (text, images, diagrams, tables, sketches etc) - including any written or artistic works - is normally automatically protected by copyright and therefore only available for legal use with specific permission. Even material available on the internet is still protected by copyright unless otherwise stated. But there is ready solution in the form of a large and growing pool of freely available creative works licensed for re-use:

  • photographs and other images
  • audio and video recordings
  • music
  • text
  • books and other materials.

Use CC Search to find material from a number of websites which host Creative Commons licensed content. You may search by keyword, type of material, or licence type - to find exactly the right item.

How to attribute creators

All Creative Commons licences contain the Attribution element. This means that you must acknowledge the creator of the work. This is also a requirement under Australian copyright law. An attribution should include:

  • creator's name
  • title of the work
  • URL where the work is hosted
  • the licence it is available under and a link to the licence (so others can find out the licence terms)

For example: "Eid Mubarak by Hamed Saber available at flickr.com/photos/44124425616@N01/1552383685 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0"

Creative Commons Australia has more information on How to attribute Creative Commons licensed materials.