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Creative Commons for Open Projects: Adapt/Remix CC Content

What are Remixes, Adapted Works, and Derivative Works?

Creative Commons-licensed materials can often be remixed and adapted to create new original works.

An “adaptation” in copyright law and Creative Commons licenses is a work based on another work but adapted with enough originality that it can be considered a new work and can itself be copyrighted.

The terms “remix,” “adaptation,” and “derivative” are typically used interchangeably.

Examples of adaptations:

  • Film version of a book
  • Translation of a novel

Uses that are not adaptations:

  • Using excerpts
  • Reformatting

How do I know if I can adapt a work?

Look carefully at the Creative Commons license attached to the work. Review the specific meanings of different licenses on the Creative Commons Licenses page.

Licensing Remixes, Adaptations, and Derivative Works

Adapting Creative Commons content and licensing the adaptation requires careful attention to the licenses of all of the underlying works, and licensing and sharing goals for the adaptation. For instance, some Creative Commons licenses are not compatible. This means that content with particular licenses cannot be used together.

Adapter licenses (i.e., the license you apply to your adaptation):

  • Should include the most restrictive elements of the original works for easier downstream use
  • Must be compatible with SA licenses if SA content is included in the adaptation
  • Must not include ND content if the adaptation will be shared

Adapters can consult the following charts for guidance.

CC License Compatibility Chart

License Compatibility Chart

Adapters License Chart

Adapters License Chart

Both charts are available in the Combining and Adapting CC Material section of the Creative Commons FAQ.

Guide Credit and License

"Creative Commons for Open Projects" by Denise Hattwig (2023) is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.