Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: this is not the entire FAQ, but rather a condensed version that aims to answer in a very clear and concise manner the most common questions people have about Creative Commons. If you don't find the answer to your question here, please see our extended FAQ.
Can Creative Commons give legal advice about its licenses or help with CC license enforcement?
No. We are not permitted to provide legal advice or legal services to assist anyone with enforcing Creative Commons licenses. We are not a law firm. We're much like a legal self-help site that offers free form-based legal documents for you to use however you see fit.
However, if you are based in the US, you may be able to find a suitably qualified volunteer lawyer in your area from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
Is use X a violation of the Noncommercial clause of the licenses?
Depends. Determining what does and doesn't constitute commercial use is not easy. We are aware of the complications related to drawing a line between commercial and noncommercial use and are working to clarify the issue to some extent.
If you are really in doubt about whether a particular use infringes on a noncommercial license, we recommend that you use works that are explicitly licensed for commercial use (for example, material under our BY, BY-SA, and BY-ND licenses), or approaching the licensor directly to see if you can reach a commercial use agreement.
To help us clarify the commercial/noncommercial divide, please read Draft NonCommercial Guidelines and leave your comments on the discussion page.
Does my use constitute a derivative work or an adaptation?
It depends. A derivative work is a work that is based on another work but is not an exact, verbatim copy. What this precisely means is a difficult legal question. In general, a translation from one language to another or a film version of a book are examples of derivative works. Under Creative Commons’ core licenses, syncing music in timed-relation with a moving image is also considered to be a derivative work.
All Creative Commons licenses allow the user to exercise the rights permitted under the license in any format or media. For example, this means that under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives license you can copy the work from a digital file to a print file, as long as you do so in a manner that is consistent with the terms of that license.
Can Creative Commons give me permission to use Creative Commons-licensed photo X, I found on [insert web site]?
No. Creative Commons licenses are offered free of charge to the public. There is no registration required to use a CC license, nor do we attempt to maintain any type of registry. We generally have no direct knowledge of who is using the licenses or even for what (though we do have some indirect knowledge of usage via various search engines). We have no way of contacting the authors of CC-licensed works, nor do we offer any rights clearing services.
Creative Commons licenses haven't been ported to my jurisdiction (country). What can I do?
Every CC license is intended to be effective on a worldwide basis, whether "ported" to a specific jurisdiction or not. If the licenses have not yet been ported to your jurisdiction, we recommend that you simply use the Unported versions of our licenses. CC's Unported licenses were created using standard terms from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and other international treaties related to copyright and intellectual property.
If you would like to help adapt the licenses to your jurisdiction, you might consider collaborating with us on the license porting process: International Overview The Porting Process. If you would like to contribute to this project, please contact Creative Commons International: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I license software using CC licenses?
We do not recommend it. Creative Commons licenses should not be used for software. We strongly encourage you to use one of the very good software licenses which are already available. We recommend considering licenses made available by the Free Software Foundation or listed at the Open Source Initiative. Unlike our licenses, which do not make mention of source or object code, these existing licenses were designed specifically for use with software.
Creative Commons has “wrapped” some free software/open source licenses with a human-readable "Commons Deed" and machine-readable metadata. You may use these "wrapped" software licenses to take advantage of the Creative Commons human-readable document as well as the machine-readable metadata while still licensing your work under an established software license. It is important to note that CC has not altered these software licenses in any way, but has simply bundled human- and machine-readable explanations of the licenses along with the original license text. Examples: GNU GPL, GNU LGPL, BSD.
How do I change the Creative Commons search option built into the Firefox browser?
Mozilla has included Creative Commons in Firefox's search function along with search options for Google, Amazon, and other popular sites. See Mozilla features.
If you want to remove a particular search option, click on the logo that appears in the search box (the CC logo, or the Google logo, for example). You will see a pull down menu that allows you to use your mouse to select a different search provider. Choosing "Manage search engines" allows you to add or remove search engines of your choice, such as Flickr and Wikipedia.
To switch between search providers through the keyboard, start by clicking inside the search box, then hold down the Ctrl key (or the Apple/Command key on a Mac) and press the up arrow a few times. You should see the Google logo. To change to other providers, you can press Ctrl (or Apple) + down. More information on the Firefox search is available on our wiki.