In the US, creators automatically receive copyright protection for their works. Copyright includes a combination of rights, is exclusive, and lasts a long time. So in effect, copyright-protected works are unavailable for many uses from the time of their creation until long after their creator has passed away. Anyone who wants to use a protected work often must seek permission from the copyright owner, who may charge a fee.
The Creative Commons (CC) allows works to be shared easily. It’s an opt-in scheme in which creators assign licenses to their works and share them online. To share your work, just select and attach your license terms. Or if you’d like to use a CC-licensed work, all you need to do is follow the creator’s terms. It’s that easy!
Creators attach their own licenses to their works. These terms and symbols describe permitted uses:
CC – Creative Commons.
BY – Attribution
NC – Noncommercial uses
ND – No derivative uses
SA – Share alike
CC0 – CC Zero means that the creator has relinquished all of his or her rights to the extent allowed by law.
This is the most accommodating of CC licenses offered. CC BY allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.
This allows others to redistribute your work—commercially or non-commercially—as long as they credit you and do not alter your work.
This lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work for non-commercial purposes as long as they acknowledge you.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.
This license is the most restrictive, allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you. But they may not change your works or use them commercially.
This symbols means that the item is free of known copyright restrictions. It is used for very old works whose copyright has expired.
Here's a simple example. The title is linked to the photo source, the creator's name is linked to his profile page, and the license is linked to licensed deed. There are now four successive versions of Creative Commons licenses because the terms have been updated over time. This example is licensed under Creative Commons version 2.0.
For guidance in more complicated scenarios (for example, you altered a CC work; the creator uses a pseudonym; or you combined CC works by several different creators) please see this wiki about CC attribution or this page.