Marking your work with a CC license

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Fondation de la Misericorde Divine.

Best Practices for Marking Content with CC Licenses: Creators

NOTE: This page is for creators and copyright owners who are looking to CC license their own work. If you are looking for the best way to mark CC-licensed work as a user, see 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

As a creator using a CC license, it is important to properly note the license you have chosen so that others know what they can and can't do with your work. No matter what the context, CC licenses should be clearly cited to enable their full potential as a legal tool.

Marking on Your Site

Our license chooser is designed to make this process simple - answer a few questions and a formatted HTML code will be generated for you:

  1. Insert this HTML code into your webpage so that your work is clearly marked.
  2. This HTML code includes RDFa, a very important aspect of marking your work so that others can find it easily.

The specifics of inserting the code depend on how you edit your website. The block of code should be inserted into the page HTML - most desktop website tools like Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or GoLive offer a "code view" that lets you see the code that makes up your page. Near the end of the page before you see </body></html>, paste the HTML code in directly.

If all of the resources you are publishing on a single website are licensed under the same CC license, it makes sense to paste the HTML code into your website’s template (e.g., in a footer or sidebar area). After saving the template, the chosen license information should appear everywhere on your site. Whether you add license information to a single page or an entire site, once live on the Internet, the license information will be displayed and the machines will be able to detect the license status automatically.

From there, here are three steps to license notice perfection:

  1. The full URI (link) to the license. Example:
  2. A visible notation (most commonly text) that states the license being used. Example: Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
  3. Optionally, the appropriate Creative Commons license button or CC icon and license property icon(s).

NOTE: Because each CC license represents a different set of permissions and restrictions, it is important to note the specific license used. Displaying only the CC icon, “Creative Commons”, or “Some Rights Reserved” is insufficient; always include the full URL.

In order for others to credit you for your work, it is preferable to provide an attribution name and URI. The license chooser provides the proper license button (if you fill in attribution fields) as well as RDFa attribution data. Alternatively, high resolution buttons and license icons are available from our logo download page.

For example, see the following screenshot of a license notification that incorporates these best practices:

By small.jpg
This work by David Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States.

If you visit David's blog, you will see this notice at the bottom of the page. The license icon links to the license deed that includes attribution information specific to David. In this case, David filled out the attribution fields in the license chooser, which provided the proper license button and formatted attribution information. He then pasted the resulting HTML code with RDFa into his webpage and included the textual notation of attribution and the specific license that you see above.

Still confused? Take a look at our visual guide. See [Adding a license to your existing website] for step by step visuals of copying and pasting the HTML code. This page also contains the same information for pages that host a specific type of media (audio, video, photo, and text -- which includes various blogging platforms).

If your work is a derivative of another original CC-licensed work, be sure to look at our Marking for Users primer as well.

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.

For offline works in general, consider publishing a web page with licensing information about your material. Doing so enables your work to be found by search engines and other web discovery tools.

Below are general examples for each medium. If a more technical explanation is your goal, please see Marking Works (technical):

Offline Text

(for online text see Marking on Your Site)

  • For documents that are meant to be shared in print format (not read online) it is suggested to use a title and/or copyright page to include the Copyright notice and CC license information.
    • After going through the license chooser, you can click on "Mark a document not on the web, add this text to your work" in the lower right column.
    • And/or you can refer to this sample copyright notice: "Copyright (c) 2009 by Greg Grossmeier. This work is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license,"
  • It is also suggested that you use a visual license notice. Here is a collection of visual markers that can be used:
  • Advanced Instructions: Text


  • Adding a watermark or other visual marker on an image can ultimately detract from the original. If you choose to, a safe method of indicating license choice consists of two actions:
    • When publishing the image on a website, make sure that your license choice is clearly visible, preferably indicated with one of our license icons.
    • Ensure search engines can see it also via the use of RDFa, which you can copy and paste from the HTML code given to you by the license chooser.
  • Additionally, you can ensure that the image has XMP metadata support with your name, date, and license choice.
  • Advanced Instructions: Image


  • For audio files, two actions are recommended:
    • When publishing the audio file on a website, make sure that your license choice is clearly visible, preferably using one of our license icons.
    • Ensure search engines can find it via the use of RDFa, which you can copy and paste from the HTML code provided by the license chooser.
  • Additionally, you may want to ensure that the audio file has metadata support with your name, date, and license choice.
    • One easy way to do this is to upload your file to music sharing site that has enabled CC licensing. See Marking on Other Sites below.
    • Alternatively, you can use your favorite audio player to add in the information. To learn more see Embedded_Metadata. You can also see how to add ID3 tags to a common audio file type, such as the MP3, or browse other file types.
  • Also, if it is practical to do so (for podcasts, for instance, not song tracks), add an audio bumper to the beginning of the file to indicate your choice of license. Here are some intro bumpers which you can use to build upon.
  • Advanced Instructions: Audio


Marking Specific Formats

Marking on Other Sites

Content Directories

CC-enabled content directories are online content-sharing sites where you can upload and share your works with an existing community. Because these sites have enabled CC licensing, you can easily indicate the license on your work. Content directories can increase the chances your work will be discovered, especially as users look for reusable/shareable works on these sites. Additionally, search engines like Google and Yahoo! will search your work as CC licensed if the metadata is properly attached.

Does your favorite community not have CC-license capacity? You can usually indicate that you are using CC somewhere in an info box. You can always contact them and let them know it is a feature you would like to see.

HOWTO_Publish contains guides to help you CC license your material on some popular content-sharing sites. For instance:

For more, go to HOWTO_Publish.

External Links

Things to note

When marking your work, remember that any restriction or modification to the original license cannot be labeled a 'Creative Commons’ license. See