Best practices for attribution

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Best Practices for Marking Content with CC Licenses: Users


NOTE: This page is for users of others' works who are seeking best practices on how to attribute CC-licensed content. If you are looking for the best way to mark your own CC-licensed work as a creator, see http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Marking/Creators. If you own a content-sharing site or platform that hosts works by other creators and are interested in enabling CC licensing for your users, see http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Web_Integration.

When reusing a CC-licensed work (via sharing the original or a derivative based on the original), it is your legal obligation to include what license is being used, as well as abiding by the license conditions provided by the licensor, aka the creator or content owner of the work.

Marking on Your Site


Adapted from our FAQ:

How do I properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

All current CC licenses require that you attribute the original author(s). If the copyright holder has not specified any particular way to attribute them, this does not mean that you do not have to give attribution. It simply means that you will have to give attribution to the best of your ability with the information you do have. Generally speaking, this implies five things:

  • If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, you must leave those notices intact, or reproduce them in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which you are re-publishing the work.
  • Cite the author's name, screen name, user identification, etc. It is nice to link that name to the person's profile page, if such a page exists.
  • Cite the work's title or name, if such a thing exists. It is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work.
  • If you are making a derivative work or adaptation, in addition to the above, you need to identify that your work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”

In the case where a copyright holder does choose to specify the manner of attribution, in addition to the requirement of leaving intact existing copyright notices, they are only able to require certain things. Namely:

  • They may require that you attribute the work to a certain name, pseudonym or even an organization of some sort.
  • They may require you to associate/provide a certain URL (web address) for the work.

If you are interested to see what an actual license ("legalcode") has to say about attribution, you can use the CC Attribution 3.0 Unported license as an example. Please note that this is only an example, and you should always read the appropriate section of the specific license in question...usually, but perhaps not always, section 4(b) or 4(c): http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode

Examples

Attributing the original work

"My Awesome Photo," © 2009 Greg Grossmeier, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Attributing your derivative use of the work

This is a Finnish translation of "My Awesome Report" © 2009 by Greg Grossmeier, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/. This Finnish translation is licensed under the same Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.

Marking third-party content on your site

If you are a creator who is incorporating other creators' CC-licensed content in your work, the best practices above also apply to these specific third-party items. Here's how you may want to consider marking third-party content that is licensed differently.

Example of marking your own work:

Except otherwise noted, this blog is © 2009 Greg Grossmeier, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.

Example of marking the differently licensed item:

The photo X is © 2009 Jane Park, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.

Is your attribution good enough?

Ask yourself whether an interested viewer/reader/listener or other user could discover who gets credit (attribution) and that they have freedoms with respect to the content (notice). If they can, great, if not, consider whether you're making a good faith effort to use the licensed work according to its terms.

If in doubt, you can try asking the original publisher. They may have already provided attribution guidelines, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reusing_Wikipedia_content

Marking Specific Media

While remaining similar in intent, marking will vary depending on the medium. The following are some helpful tips on making sure your media is marked correctly.

Crediting in Video

Adding the appropriate credit information to you videos could be as simple as a list of the works used at the end with their associated license. Eg:

This video features the following songs:

“Desaprendere (Treatment)” by fourstones, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

“Some Other Song” by fourstones, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

If possible it is desirable to make the title, author, and license a link the viewer can follow.

Crediting in Text

A similar format to the Video example above would be sufficient with the added ability to create links for text available online.

Crediting in Audio

If available online provide a "credit list" of material used and follow the above Text guidelines.

Crediting in Images

If available online provide a "credit list" of material used and follow the above Text guidelines.

Download Markers

More Technical

We also have a document about marking works that is more technical.

External Guides and Fact Sheets