A Flowchart For Figuring Out Which CC License You Should Use


Creative Commons is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 that, over the years, has released a set of licenses that enable creative types to share their work with others. The content creator allows others to use their work, just as long as the users follow the guidelines set forth in that particular license. It’s a “some rights reserved” system rather than an “all rights reserved system.”

In the photographic community, some aren’t fond of CC licensing while others are downright prolific about it. But if you’re looking to license some of your content in this way, this useful infographic put together by CC Australia will help you navigate the common licensing combinations.

There are four parts to a CC license, three of which you can choose to include or leave out. The initial stipulation that is always there is Attribution. This basically states the user must credit you when using your work. The three remaining stipulations that you can add to Attribution are: No Derivatives, Non-Commercial and Share Alike.

Here’s the actual PDF to walk you through picking yours:

As you can see, No Derivatives requires that the user not alter your original in any way, Non-Commercial stipulates that the image cannot be used to make money, and Share Alike requires that any resulting “remix” of the content be shared via the same licensing terms.

Share Alike and No Derivatives are never used together (if they’re not changing your content then there’s no reason to stipulate that they share a “remix” the same way) but the rest can mix and match with Attribution to create the ideal licensing situation for you.

It may seem a bit confusing at first, but it’ll make sense once you’ve gone through the flow chart a few times — compared to fair use copyright law it’s a proverbial walk in the park. Alternatively, if you’re not the infographic type, the Creative Commons website offers a “Choose a License” web app that can help you pick a license digitally. Happy licensing!

Thanks for sending in the tip, Pete!

  • Johnny Blood

    How about “none of the above?” Creative Commons does not help photographers, it hurts them

  • Rob S

    I have two images on my flickr shared under Creative Commons. Both request credit only when using the image. Based on views I know the images have been downloaded hundreds of times. Based on Tiny Eye I know they have been used hundreds of times. NO ONCE has anyone bothered to credit me. Yeah, Creative Commons is broken.

  • lidocaineus

    Not sure how your failure to do anything about it is Creative Commons’ problem. You can choose any license you want including no usable license; it’s your responsibility to ensure the license is enforced.

    In my case, I’ve never found a photo I’ve licensed under CC to not be attributed correctly (well I found one that was a typo, but they corrected it promptly after I pointed it out). That must mean CC is a complete success.

  • lidocaineus

    Please don’t feed this troll.

  • CGP

    Well then you have grounds to take action about it. You granted the license and whoever used your work didn’t honour it.
    It’s your responsibility to do something about it, not the people who came up with the licence wording.

  • Oro

    I don’t agree with him but i don’t see any “trolling” in his comment, he only wrote his opinion.

  • lidocaineus

    His trolling is in his history.

  • A.G. Photography

    How about just not use creative commons licensing anymore! How about put some VALUE on your own work and license accordingly. Your “pictures” become CONTENT, that content is created by people that get paid 5, 6 figures, and you just lost your income source because you gave it away.

    Magazines charge thousands of dollars to their advertisers to print their ads and you give them your work for free? how does that make any sense? was your camera free? your gas? your time? you food? your taxes? your pants? was any of that free? why in the world would you give your TIME for free? Stop doing that before NOBODY will make another dime in photography.

    Let’s bring back the respect this career choice deserves.
    Photography is not a commodity.

    About proper licensing:

  • BILL