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A Guide to Creative Commons

This guide will house content from the Creative Commons Certificate Course completed from June to August, 2020.

Choosing a CC License

Not sure which license to use? Creative Commons provides a License Chooser tool, currently in beta, on its website. For a visual guide, CC Australia created a helpful flowchart: Which Creative Commons license is right for me? (CC BY 3.0). This chart provides basic guidance for choosing a CC License, although the information from the chart should not be considered legal advice.

Physically applying a CC License is easy and only requires indicating the chosen CC License. However, it is helpful to include a link to the appropriate license deed. Creative Commons has several guides for applying for licenses: 

Some important things to remember about applying a CC License:

  • All CC Licenses are irrevocable, once a license is applied it cannot be changed (including CC0)
  • You must be the sole owner or controller of the copyright
  • CC Licenses work on top of the copyright laws of the country, and copyright laws can differ among countries

Use the TASL method to label your work or to attribute work you are adapting

  • T = Title
  • A = Author (tell reusers who to give credit to)
  • S = Source (give reusers a link to the resource)
  • L = License (link to the CC license deed)

More detailed information can be found on the CC Wiki: Best Practices for Attribution.

Remixes & Adaptations


The terms remix, adaptation, and derivative have nuances in their definitions, but for the purpose of this guide the term adaptation will be used in place of all three. An adaptation is a term of art in copyright law and means creating something new from a copyrighted work that is sufficiently original to itself be protected by copyright. What constitutes an adaptation depends on a country’s applicable law. Creative Commons offers guidance on adaptations on their FAQ Page.


An important distinction of an adaptation is that something new is made from the original work, much like how a soup is made from individual ingredients that blend together to make something new. However, there are limits on whether and how you may share the adapted work.

  • Attribution to the original author must be included in the adapted work.
  • If the original work is licensed under a NoDerivatives license, you can make and use changes privately but you cannot share your adaptation with others.
  • If the original work is licensed under a ShareAlike license, then ShareAlike applies to your adaptation and you must license it under the same or a compatible license. 
  • The license applied to the new work must be compatible with the license of the original work. The CC License Compatibility Chart below to gauge which licenses to use on the adapted work based on the license of the original work:

CC License Compatibility Chart

"CC License Compatibility Chart" by Kennisland is licensed under CC0

"Remixes & Adaptations" is a derivative of the June 2020 Creative Commons Certificate for Librarians, by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0. [Creative Commons supplied the definition of adaptation.]

Licensing Collections


A collection involves the assembly of separate and independent creative works into a collective whole. If an adaptation is like a soup, then a collection is like a salad. Each part is its own, while also coexisting together in a space. Some examples of collections include:

  • Bringing together separate essays, stories, or poems into one book
  • Arranging photographs into an album 
  • Making a playlist of videos 


Because a collection consists of individual works, attribution and licensing information about the individual works in the collection should be included. The collection itself can be licensed, especially if additional work is added to the collection such as an introduction to an anthology. However, the license for the collection only applies to the particular arrangement and any additional work added by the collector. A license for a collection does not apply to the individual works in the collection. Some other considerations for collections include:

  • Even if the collection includes ShareAlike (SA) licensed work, SA does not apply to the overall work
  • The NoDerivatives (ND) restriction does not apply even if a ND-licensed work in being used
  • CC licensed material can be combined with other, but NonCommercial restrictions (if applicable) should still be followed

"Licensing Collections" is a derivative of the June 2020 Creative Commons Certificate for Librarians, by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0. [Creative Commons supplied the definition of collections.]

Example Collection

Licensing Statement

"Example Collection" by Roxanna Palmer is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International License.

"Using CC Licenses & Works" by Roxanna Palmer is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International License unless stated otherwise. Based on 07_2020_CC Certification Certificate for Librarians course under a CC BY 4.0 license.