Legal Code Translation Policy

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Creative Commons has established the following Official Legal Code Translation Process and Policy (“Legal Code Translation Policy”) to facilitate adoption and understanding of our licenses as tools for sharing creative works and data. This Legal Code Translation Policy is established as of 29 October 2013, and may be updated and revised by Creative Commons in its discretion. Any non-trivial revisions will be logged and dated at the bottom of this page.


The legal code translation process in a nutshell:

  1. Send proposal of translation project to Regional Coordinators (note: please coordinate with other jurisdictions with the same language);
  2. Prepare draft translation using worksheet and submit to Regional Coordinators (use translation guide as reference); the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA) license will be translated first;
  3. Resolve questions and concerns regarding draft translation with CC Legal;
  4. Public comment period; changes recommended from the public are incorporated;
  5. Send written summary of changes recommended during the public comment and why they were or were not incorporated; CC Legal reviews, and then officially approves the draft of the BY-NC-SA license translation;
  6. Prepare final, official translation: team has the option of putting just BY-NC-SA into HTML, or creating the other 5 licenses first and putting all six licenses into HTML;
  7. CC Legal puts the licenses on the staging server and sends links to team; the team and CC Legal should run comparisons to find mistakes and confirm that translations of deed and chooser are completed; CC Legal will ask how the team wants language listed on the bottom of the other published translations;
  8. Once any final edits made, CC Legal goes through final checklist and pushes licenses live by merging into the master on Github;
  9. Translate supplementary materials;
  10. The new Web pages are published on the website;
  11. Launch official translation (to be treated as equivalents of the English originals).


The legal code for the international Creative Commons licenses and for CC0 is designed for use worldwide, without any need for adaptation to local laws. For these tools to reach their fullest potential, CC encourages linguistic translations of the legal codes and deeds into as many languages as possible. This page describes the policy and process for developing official translations of Creative Commons legal code.

Legal code translation projects are coordinated and overseen by CC’s legal team in collaboration with the global network team. Creative Commons reserves the exclusive right to approve and host official translations of its legal tools, as well as to modify this process and adjust translation projects at any time. Per our policy, each official translation is hosted at a specified uniform resource indicator on CC’s website. The English original and the official translations will all be treated as equivalents. Translations of CC licenses that are not made in accordance with this policy are unauthorized modifications of our licenses per the License Modification Policy.

Beginning new translation projects

The process for developing new translations (each is called a “translation project”) is described below. Creative Commons prefers that each translation project be led by active affiliates under a current MOU with Creative Commons. For this reason, the process described below anticipates new translation project proposals to come from affiliates. However, interested community members may also propose a translation project or participate as part of a translation team. Third parties may be hired to translate, but must be paid for and supervised by the affiliates.

CC staff follow an internal checklist to track the progress of translations; while translation teams will not need to refer to it, it is provided here for informational purposes.

For translation projects already in progress as of the effective date of this Policy, please refer to the guidelines below.

Translation project proposals

Creative Commons accepts proposals from affiliates to coordinate the linguistic translation of the legal code, deed, and related informational materials. CC acknowledges that several affiliate teams around the world share an official or primary language. CC’s policy is to publish a single, official translation for any given language unless an important reason exists to allow more than one. This mirrors CC’s policy for translations of deeds. Affiliate teams wanting to coordinate translation projects are expected to accommodate and encourage participation of affiliate teams from those other jurisdictions.

Proposals for leading a translation project should be submitted via the CC0 or 4.0 translation project forms, and then the appropriate Regional Coordinator(s) should be notified by email. Proposals should:

  1. identify the language(s) into which the affiliate is offering to coordinate
  2. identify other current CC affiliate jurisdictions where the language(s) are officially or primarily used
  3. summarize plans for coordinating with and encouraging the participation of other affiliate teams as well as the broader communities within jurisdictions having the same official or primary language
  4. propose a timeline for completing the translation project.

Proposals may be posted by CC for comment or to encourage participation by those in jurisdictions sharing an official or primary language.

Regional Coordinators evaluate proposals in consultation with the CC legal team. Translation project plans, translation leads, and other team members are then formalized and officially announced through postings in appropriate channels. Translation teams offering to arrange for a third party to conduct the translation are responsible for all costs associated with the translation, supervising the translation process, and conducting a final review prior to posting the draft for public comment.

The person(s) responsible for drafting, or overseeing the drafting, of a translation of legal code are referred to as “translation lead(s),” and those participating on the translation project, the “translation team.”

Translations by non-affiliates

If CC is unable to locate a current affiliate team willing to coordinate a translation project for a particular language where demonstrated demand for an official translation exists, CC may open the process to the public or arrange for third parties to undertake the translation responsibilities in this Legal Code Translation Policy.

Translation process

The form that must be completed before beginning this process is here for 4.0, and here for CC0.

1. Preparing the first translation draft

Once the translation team is finalized, the translation leads coordinate the work of the translation team in linguistically translating the legal code from English into the identified language. Please refer to the legal tools translation guide while creating your translation because it contains information about common issues that arise when translating the text of the licenses and CC0.

When translating the 4.0 license suite, please begin with BY-NC-SA using the worksheet here. (Note there is also a translation worksheet for CC0.) All 4.0 translations must include an equivalent of the following: “Official translations of this license are available in other languages.” All CC0 translations must include "Official translations of this legal tool are available in other languages." Additionally, translation of the phrases "Additional languages available:" and "Please read the FAQ for more information about official translations." will be needed for the navigation boxes on the licenses and CC0. These will appear on the translation worksheet along with the legal code.

When finalized, including any review and edits by the translation leads if the drafting involved a third party, the translation leads send the first draft to their Regional Coordinator, who will evaluate it for adherence to the guidelines and general readiness for review, and provide it to the CC legal team. At the same time, the translation leads should submit a written summary (in English) containing a description of any translation challenges they experienced. This summary may be included as part of the translation worksheet or written out separately.

The CC legal team reviews the translation of the legal code and the written explanation, in collaboration with the translation leads and the Regional Coordinators. During the review, CC may ask for modifications to the draft as well as additional information. The review stage continues until CC provisionally approves the draft as ready for public comment.

2. Public comment period

The public comment period is designed to ensure the highest quality linguistic translations possible. The translation leads post the draft in appropriate channels for public comment and feedback for a reasonable period of time (typically about 30-45 days, but may be shortened or extended if circumstances warrant).

3. Preparing the official translation

At the conclusion of the public comment period, and following resolution of comments by the CC legal team and the translation leads, the translation leads coordinate preparation and submission of the final official translation to CC in the format requested by CC (currently XHTML).

4. Translating supplemental materials

The translation leads are responsible for coordinating the translation of supplemental and informational material relevant to the legal tool. The materials to be translated will be coordinated with Creative Commons, but must include the deed and chooser (if not already translated), and may include the Considerations for licensors and licensees, FAQs and other materials. See the instructions for translating deeds. For translation of the 4.0 suite, the other 5 licenses are also created during this stage, after final approval of the first submission.

5. Publication

The official translation, once finalized, is then posted by CC on the Creative Commons website, where it will be maintained at a stable URI. The deed and other materials will also be updated as necessary. Once posted, the text is final and no elements of the legal code may be changed; any further corrections will be published on the Errata page. Creative Commons will also announce the translation to the public, in coordination with the translation team.

Translations in progress (as of policy effective date)

Affiliate teams who began preparing translations before this Policy was instituted and wish to have their translations considered official should notify their Regional Coordinators and provide the following information:

  1. Language of translation;
  2. Persons involved in the translation;
  3. Description of the translation process undertaken; and
  4. Description of any public comment process and involvement (or request for involvement) of other affiliate teams from jurisdictions with the same official or primary language.

The CC legal team will review the information with the Regional Coordinators and the requesting affiliate team, and will make a determination as to appropriate next steps consistent with the processes and principles described above.

All teams beginning translations after December 2012 should follow the regular process outlined above.

Supporting documents


  • 4 November 2016: Added detailed new steps to the translation process
  • 17 April 2015: Clarification that unofficial translations violate License Modification Policy
  • 4 February 2015: Change in supplemental material requirements, added CC0 translation worksheet
  • 4 February 2014: Additional supplemental material requirements, new version of internal checklist posted
  • 24 January 2014: More detailed summary.
  • 29 October 2013: Policy established.

(This policy is based on and replaces the CC0 Translation Policy, which was established in December 2012. You can view the old CC0 policy.)