FAQ

These FAQs are designed to provide a better understanding of Creative Commons, our licenses and our other legal and technical tools. They provide basic information, sometimes about fairly complex topics. These FAQs will often link to more detailed information. Please note that several of our tools have their own in-depth FAQs, including our CC0 Public Domain Dedication and Public Domain Mark.
What is Creative Commons and what do you do?
Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. CC has affiliates all over the world who help ensure our licenses work internationally and who raise awareness about our work. Our legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms, those who want to make creative uses of works, and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis. Our vision is to help others realize the full potential of the internet.

Although Creative Commons is best known for licenses, our work extends beyond just providing copyright licenses. CC offers a number of other legal and technical tools that also facilitate sharing and discovery of creative works. Unlike other public legal tools, Creative Commons’ licenses and tools were designed specifically to work with the web, which makes content that is offered under their terms easy to search for, discover and use. CC also offers other legal tools, such as CC0, a public domain dedication for rightsholders who wish to put their work into the public domain in advance of the expiration of applicable copyright, and the Public Domain Mark, a tool for marking a work that is in the worldwide public domain. Additionally, Creative Commons makes available tools used by scientific communities, such as standard materials transfer agreements.

For more information about CC, our main website contains in-depth information about the organization, its staff and board of directors, its history and its supporters. You can also read CC case studies to learn about some of the inspiring ways CC licenses and tools have been used to share works and support innovative business models. You can also find up-to-the-minute information about CC by visiting the blog.

Is Creative Commons against copyright?
Absolutely not. CC has responded to claims to the contrary. CC licenses are copyright licenses, and depend on the existence of copyright to work. CC licenses are legal tools that creators and other rightsholders can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited kinds of uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Others who want to reserve all of their rights under copyright law should not use CC licenses.
Can Creative Commons give legal advice about its licenses or other tools, or help with CC license enforcement?
No. Creative Commons is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or legal services. CC is similar to a self-help service that offers free, form-based legal documents for others to use. CC also provides a jurisdiction database where you can compare the international licenses (formerly known at the “unported licenses”) and ports (adaptations of the international licenses for particular jurisdictions), and a license versions page where you can compare the differences between license versions.

The CC wiki has a list of lawyers and organizations who have identified themselves as willing to provide information to others about CC licensing issues. However, please note that CC does not provide referral services, and does not endorse or recommend any person on that list. CC’s Affiliate Network may also be a good resource for information about the licenses in a particular jurisdiction, though they should not be contacted for legal advice, at least in their capacity as a member of our CC Affiliate Network.

Who gives permission to use works offered under Creative Commons licenses?
Our licenses and legal tools are intended for use by anyone who holds copyright to the work. This is often, but not always, the creator or author. Creative Commons has no authority to grant permission on behalf of those persons, nor does CC manage those rights on behalf of others. CC offers licenses and tools to the public free of charge and does not require that creators or other rightsholders register with CC in order to apply a CC license to a work. This means that CC does not have special knowledge of who uses the licenses and for what purposes, nor does CC have a way to contact authors beyond means generally available to the public.

If you would like to obtain additional permissions to use the work beyond those granted by the license that has been applied, you should contact the rightsholder.

Does Creative Commons collect or track works licensed under a CC license?
CC does not collect content or track works except by way of example. CC builds technical tools that help the public search for and use works licensed under our licenses and other legal tools. For instance, the CC Network allows creators and users to express their support for Creative Commons, and also provides a tool for creators to authenticate ownership of their works. CC also offers tools like CC Search to help the public discover works offered under Creative Commons licenses on the Internet via CC-aware search engines and repositories.
May I use the Creative Commons logo and buttons?
You may download high resolution versions of the Creative Commons logos and use them in connection with your work or your website, provided you comply with our policies. Among other things, if you use the logos on a website or on your work, you may not alter the logos in any respect — such as by changing the font, the proportions or the colors. CC’s buttons, name and corporate logo (the “CC” in a circle) are trademarks of Creative Commons. You cannot use them in ways not permitted by our policies unless you first receive express, written permission. This means, for example, that you cannot (without our permission) print your own buttons and t-shirts using CC logos, although you can purchase them in CC’s store.