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Along with the launch of 4.0, we are revising the deed. Several changes have been made from the previous deed; however, this single deed will be used for 4.0 and for all earlier versions.

Some of the design principles and changes from the previous deed are explained below.

General design principles

The deed text should work for all versions of the license

The deeds display the same text (albeit translated) on all versions of each of the six licenses, from 1.0 onward, with only very limited exceptions. This will continue to be true at this version. This means that any revisions to the text must account for differences between license versions. For example, the section on warranties states that there are no warranties unless provided otherwise, which covers the situation of licensors who have provided warranties separately, as well as the 1.0 licenses which include warranties.

The deed should be simple, but not at the expense of accuracy

We've tried to make the text as simple as possible while making sure it is still accurate. While the language cannot get into as much detail as the legal code, it can at least avoid oversimplifications that would be misleading or surprising.

The deed is not a substitute for the license

This means two things: first, that it should be very clear that it is just a summary, and that people who want to use and understand the whole thing need to read it before using the licensed material; and second, that not everything in the license is going to be mentioned somewhere on the deed (even though everything in the license is there for a reason).

Text of the deed


We've attempted to clarify that the deed is not a substitute for the license, encouraging people to read the full license using slightly modified text. Throughout the text, we've tried to avoid language like "this license" that may mistakenly imply that the deed is the license.


The summary descriptions have changed slightly from the previous deed. For example, "share" now specifies "any medium or format", to be clear that this is a part of the basic sharing permission, and does not constitute adaptation. "Remix" has been changed to the license term, "adapt", and clarifies the types of activities that may create adapted material, including "remix".

An additional sentence has been added to clarify that the licenses are irrevocable absent a breach. Care was taken to avoid implying that these are the only freedoms you have (for example, we did not want to imply that you could not exercise fair use rights exceeding the granted freedoms) or that the license could not be terminated because of the licensee's own action of failing to comply with the license.

License terms

Attribution: In this version of the deed, we wanted to avoid creating misunderstandings. "In the manner specified" has been a source of misunderstanding, as it seems to promise licensors they can demand more than the license requires. We eliminated that phrase from the deed, in addition to clarifying that all of the requirements may be satisfied in a "reasonable manner".

ShareAlike: An important clarification here is that we have only listed activities that trigger the ShareAlike requirement. Since not all alternations create adapted material (that in turn triggers ShareAlike in those licenses), we chose to replacing "alter" with "remix".

NonCommercial: Left the same as the current deed.

NoDerivatives: Meant to parallel the ShareAlike language: these are the things you may not do with ND material. A popup clarifies that there are alterations that do not create derivatives.

No additional terms or conditions: Clarifying the license's requirements here. In particular, many people are not aware that the license restricts application of effective technological measures. Several of you indicated this was a priority addition to the deed and should be included if we retained that restriction.

Databases: Rather than attempt to include a fair amount of additional wording to address the way the license conditions and freedoms work with database rights, particularly as they affect so few uses and users, we chose to instead note that if the material is a database, there may be additional requirements.


We attempted to limit these to the most important elements of concern to licensees, and ones that we wanted to call special attention to; not all additional terms of the license are included here.

In the first paragraph, we wanted to be clear that the CC licenses don't limit or otherwise affect uses that do not require a license, such as uses of elements of the material in the public domain, and uses that fall under exceptions and limitations. We also chose to state what this means in practice for users: "you do not have to comply with this license" when that is applicable. Note that we refer to "elements" of the licensed material -- particular pieces of a work may be in the public domain while others are not, for example.

The second paragraph cautions licensees about elements that the license does not and cannot grant, to avoid potential mistakes here. We also chose to make the lack of warranties more apparent to licensees by placing it on the deed.

The section on waiver present on the 3.0 deed has been removed, as it was lower priority. It is not applicable to all licensees, and where there has been a waiver of a license condition, the licensor should be noting this separately along with the license marking.


There are popups scattered throughout the text where additional clarification was most needed. Most popups will include links outward to more information, including perhaps to relevant sections of the license. We have no direct links outward to the license: all go through a popup first, to avoid taking users off the deed page on the first click.

We considered having all text in the deed linked to relevant sections of the license, or having all sections expand to show text of the legal code; however, some sections of the deed are covered in multiple places in the license text. Also, not all provisions of the license are covered in the deed, and we did not want to give the misleading impression that clicking on all of the deed sections would be a substitute for reading the license itself.