4.0 translation guide

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This Translation Guide is intended to guide teams preparing translations of the 4.0 license suite in accordance with the Legal Code Translation Policy. It identifies common issues that arise when translating and proofing the text. Please review this guide when proofing your first draft before submitting to CC HQ. (This is not a complete list of potential issues, and review by CC HQ is still necessary before a translation can be finalized and published.)

This document will be continually updated and improved as we work with teams on their translations and identify additional issues: please send any comments and additions not already identifed through the translation process to legal@creativecommons.org.

Translating the legal code

  • Formatting should be kept the same--text that is bold or emphasized in the original English text should also be formatted that way in any translation. (Even if different jurisdictions would customarily do this emphasis differently.)
  • All definitions should remain in the same order (even though the translated terms will no longer be in alphabetical order). Similarly, all license sections should remain in the same order. This is to ensure that cross-references to sections within the text remain the same, and also so that explanatory materials that refer to particular sections of the license are applicable to all translations of the license.
  • Capitalized phrases should always be translated the same way. For example, wherever "Copyright and Similar Rights" is used, the phrase used for its translation in the definition of Adapted Material (the first time it appears) should also be used in all of the other definitions where the phrase appears, as well as the places it occurs in Section 4 and Section 6.
  • All defined terms should correspond as closely as possible to the English meaning. It is fine to replace these defined terms with longer phrases if it is necessary to get the correct meaning.
  • These are linguistic translations only, not ports:
    • No references to specific local legislation should be included.
    • The legal meaning of all provisions should be kept the same as in the English version.
    • Where there are questions about something that does not have an appropriate linguistic translation, please point them out to Legal. If you are able to come to an appropriate solution within your community, we'd like to hear the decisions you made, and if you are stuck we will work with you to find something that comes closest to the meaning of the English text.

(There is a possibility that there will be ports of 4.0 in the future. Though ports may prove to be necessary in a few cases, we would like to keep their production as minimal as possible. Any team requesting a port will be required to complete a linguistic translation of 4.0 first.)

  • Notes should be kept on the translation worksheet, available at Legal_Code_Translation_Policy#Supporting_documents. This worksheet will be the primary place where the legal team leaves comments on a translation in progress. You are encouraged to include other translation and process notes as a separate section, if they are not specific to a particular item in the chart or if they require more explanation.

Elements outside the legal code

  • Elements that are not part of the Legal code (as defined at Legal code) must still be translated, though it is not required that they correspond as strictly. This includes all notices and diclaimers on the page.
  • Before a translation will be published, the Deed and the Chooser must also be translated. Even if you already have a translation in your language, you may wish to revisit these before the translation is published to make sure the word choice matches up with the choices made in the legal code.

Specific points

  • "Using Creative Commons Public Licenses": "Creative Commons Public Licenses" should all be capitalized as a defined phrase.
  • "Copyright and Similar Rights": in English, this was deliberately written to be broader than "Copyright and Neighboring Rights", which appears in 3.0. Many jurisdictions have a set of rights often referred to as "Neighboring Rights", and a term corresponding to that set of rights was probably used in any 3.0 ports, and may appear in national copyright laws. The term in your 4.0 translation should not be that term--it should be broader, to include neighboring rights and others mentioned in the scope of the license.
  • "Effective Technological Measures": this may not be equivalent to "Technical Protection Measures" or "Digital Rights Management"/"DRM". The phrase was chosen in English to correspond exactly to those measures which carry legal penalties for circumvention (which is not necessarily true of all Technological Protection Measures).
  • "You": in the definition, please mention all forms of the word that appear in the translated document (for example, English mentions both "You" and "Your").
  • "For the avoidance of doubt": this is an idiomatic English phrase. Where this phrase occurs, the translation should be something that indicates that the text which follows is not necessary and does not change the meaning of any other text in the license, but is included to ensure that the other license text is not misinterpreted.
  • "Fair use" and "fair dealing": where these terms do not have equivalents in your language, you may wish to include the English phrase in quotations to be clear that they are referring to particular legal concepts that apply to some jurisdictions.


If there are ports of earlier versions of the license in your language (in any jurisdiction), please note any differences in word choice or other elements that would might otherwise be expected to be the same. (It is acceptable to choose differently, but should be for a reason that makes sense for the current project.) Where there are differences between multiple ports in a language used by multiple jurisdictions, please note the reasoning for the choice made.

Where there are terms that correspond to concepts in legal references, such as national copyright laws in jurisdictions which use your language, the Berne Convention, the Database Directive, other national/regional laws or international treaties, or legal scholarship in your language, please note where you are using these reference as a guide to word choices, or where you are making a different choice.

Creating the files

To create the HTML files, we recommend using the English legal code pages as templates for your own. You can download the HTML for each license by going to File -> Save Page as… and then select “Webpage, HTML only”, or whatever equivalent there is for your browser. In a text editor or HTML editor, open each file you have saved. Copy and paste your appropriate license text over the previous text, being careful not to copy over the existing HTML tags. Check and re-check the code to ensure that there are no mistakes. Then save each file separately according to the following convention:

[license-code]_[version]_[language code].html

Example of all six licenses (Dutch):


Please ensure that all the XHTML files are saved using UTF-8 encoding, which generally will be the default, and that the files validate. Once you have completed the above steps and relevant processes in the legal code translation policy, please send the six XHTML files to legal@creativecommons.org along with your report of drafting issues you encountered.

Announcing the translation

  • When the translation is finished, please coordinate the launch date with Creative Commons and let us know any plans that will affect the announcement—if announcements should be held for a significant launch event, for example.