Using a copyrighted work in your own work typically requires obtaining permission from the copyright holder. What if the copyright holder could grant that permission up front, giving permission to anyone who wanted to use the work? That's the basic idea behind Creative Commons, which enables authors to establish a set of licences or permissions that determine how others can use their work. Creative Commons doesn't replace copyright, but it does make it easier to determine if you can use a particular work.
Like the traditional copyright symbol, ©, Creative Commons provides symbols that you can paste into your documents and other work to indicate that it's licensed under Creative Commons. Creative Commons provides several levels of licensing, and here are a few examples:
What the License Allows
Others may distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.
Attribution – No Derivatives
|Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you|
|Attribution – NonCommercial - ShareAlike|
Others may remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
The Creative Commons website provides a tool for creating the license text and symbol to paste into your document.
This site provides convenient access to search services that offer a way to limit a search to CC licensed works. Sites include, Google, Flickr, Jamendo, YouTube, and several others. Since there is no central registration of Creative Commons licenses, you always need to determine if the work is actually under a Creative Commons license. Do this by following the link and looking for the CC symbol. If in doubt, contact the copyright holder or the site where you found the work.