Have you ever wondered how to download and share digital content legally? How do you let people know that you want them to reuse your own work? Creative Commons Licenses can help you do both. Here is a basic introduction to all you need to know to get started with a Creative Commons License.

The World of Content

Our world is exploding with digital opportunities. Now we can communicate, share and work together using an exception distribution network known as 'The Internet.' Information and content can fly between us in exciting new ways, but it is important to know that when something is created, for example, a photo, document or music track; it is automatically protected by copyright. Copyright enables people to say who can share and reuse their creations. You must always obtain someone's permission to reuse or share their work, even when it is posted online. 

But what if a creator wants everyone to use their work without the hassle to obtain their permission over and over?

This is where Creative Commons can help!

Creative Commons provides licensing tools that are free to use. You can apply a license to your work, which refines your copyright and streamlines how you give permission.

Let's look at an example!

Jack downloads a photo of a tiger under the Creative Commons, in which, he wants to use for his school project. He can do this because, the origin of download was from Shirley's blog and she has already given permission with a Creative Commons license. Shirley's license is legally robust, but easy enough for Jack to understand. Shirley has told the world (including Jack), that they can use the photo of the tiger as long as they acknowledge her as the original photographer. The are more rules that Shirley could have included, and this leads us to Creative Common Elements.

Creative Common Elements

Creative Commons licenses are made up of license elements or rules, and each has their own special symbol. I'll use the previous example to further explain each element:


Jack must acknowledge Shirley when he publishes his project containing the photo from Shirley's blog. 


This means that no one else except for Shirley is allowed to make money from her photo. If Jack wants to print the photo on T-Shirts and distribute it to friends, he can...BUT, he must not sell them.

No Derivatives 

It means that Shirley hasn't given permission to change her photo. Jack can use her image on his own blog, but he needs permission from Shirley in order to modify or change the photo. 

Share Alike

It means new creations that use Shirley's photo of the tiger, needs to share the same licenses. If Jack incorporates Shirley's photo in his own videos, he must share the work under the same terms that Shirley has.

These elements can be mixed together to create a more refined licensing agreement for the original creator.