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Tell me about Creative Commons licences

Licensing your content on in collaboration with has implemented Creative Commons licences into the process of uploading content onto the site. But what does this mean for you as an ActNow content creator?

Creative Commons licences for content creators

Creative Commons licences are designed to facilitate and encourage more versatility and flexibility in copyright. The scheme exists as a series of licences that are customised to the specific needs a creator may have.

Creative Commons licences will help you tell the world that your copyrighted works are available for sharing, but only on certain terms


The licences available on ActNow are:
  • Attribution: others must give you credit as the original creator
  • Attribution-NoDerivs: others must give you credit as the original creator and are not permitted to alter, transform or build upon your work
  • Attribution-NonCommercial: others must give you credit as the original creator and are not permitted to use your work for commercial purposes.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: others must give you credit as the original creator and are not permitted to use your work for commercial purposes or to alter, transform or build upon your work.
  • *Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: others must give you credit as the original creator and may alter, transform or build upon your work but are not permitted to use your work for commercial purposes
  • Attribution-ShareAlike: others must give you credit as the original creator and may alter, transform or build upon your work but they are encouraged to distribute the resulting work only under another share alike licence.
  • No licence: your content remains protected under copyright.

More information on the licences is available from the website.

Copyright holders and Creative Commons licences

The nature of the Creative Commons licences is that they place obligations on potential users of your work. As such, the conditions apply only to others who use your work, not to you (the copyright holder). For example: in relation to the non-commerical clause, when other people use, trade or copy your work they cannot do so for ‘monetary compensation or financial gain’, unless they get your permission.

Creative Commons encourages people to experiment with new ways to promote and market your work. Creators are encouraged to utilise the versatility and flexibility of Creative Commons licences.

What your licence will look like

The notice attached to your work will appear automatically at the bottom of your work something like this:
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution licence
© YourNameHere 2006. First published on

The URL points potential users of your work to the Commons Deed applicable to your licence. The Commons Deed is a plain English explanation of the terms of your licence. This is backed up with a comprehensive Legal Code which ensures that the ideas you intend to protect stand up in Australian domestic law.

Frequently asked questions

Why should I turn my work over to the public domain, or make it available under a Creative Commons Custom license, if copyright provides more legal protection?

You might do so for a few reasons. Some people may be attracted by the notion of others building upon their work, or by the prospect of contributing to an intellectual commons. As the Creative Commons community grows, licensors will have the satisfaction of helping develop new ways to collaborate. Or you might license your stuff purely out of self-interest. A scholar might want his writings to be copied and shared so that his ideas spread around the world. An upstart designer may want to encourage the unfettered dissemination of her sketches to help build a reputation. An established commercial musician might post samples to whet the public's appetite for his other, fully protected songs. A political activist may want her message to reach the widest possible audience through unlimited copying. Our licenses can help implement such strategies, all while leaving you in ultimate control of your copyright. Read more examples

Does it cost me anything to use your licenses?

Nope. They're free.

Is Creative Commons against copyright?

Not at all. Our licenses help you retain your copyright while allowing certain exceptions to it, upon certain conditions. In fact, our licenses rely upon copyright for their enforcement -- just like the GNU General Public License. The justification for intellectual property protection (under U.S. law, at least) is the "promot[ion of] the progress of science and the useful arts." We want to promote science and the useful arts, too, and believe that helping creators fine-tune the exercise of their rights to suit their preferences helps do just that.

If I choose the noncommercial license option, can I still make money from my licensed works?

Absolutely. The "noncommercial use" condition applies only to others who use your work, not to you (the copyright holder). When other people use or trade or copy your work, they cannot do so for "monetary compensation or financial gain," unless they get your permission.

One of our central goals is to encourage people to experiment with new ways to promote and market their work. In fact, we designed the noncommercial license option to be a tool to help people make money from their work, by allowing them to maximize the distribution of their works while keeping control of the commercial aspects of their copyright.

Take this example: You license your photograph with a noncommercial license and post it on your website. An editor at Spectacle, a for-profit magazine, comes across your photo and wants to use it for the next issue's cover. Under the noncommercial term, the editor could copy your photograph and show it to her friends and co-workers, but she would have to strike a separate deal with you (for money, if you're smart) to use it for the magazine.

A special note on the noncommerical provision: under current international and Australian law, file-sharing or the trading of works online is considered a commercial use—even if no money changes hands. Because we believe that file-sharing, used properly, is a powerful tool for distribution and education, all Creative Commons licenses contain a special exception for file-sharing. The trading of works online is not a commercial use, under our documents, provided it is not done for monetary gain.

Do Creative Commons licenses affect fair use rights?

No. All of our licenses include this language: "Nothing in this license is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any rights arising from fair use, first sale or other limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other applicable laws." Fair use, the first sale doctrine, and other such limitations apply whether a copyright holder consents to them or not. That's a good thing, and we want to let such rights be.

What legal standing will CC licenses have outside of Australia?

Creative Commons have worked hard to craft the licenses to be enforceable in as many jurisidictions as possible. That said, we can not account for every last nuance in the world's various copyright laws, at least not given our current resources. We hope, as our resources and network of allies grow, to begin offering licenses designed for specific jurisdictions sometime in 2003. Please note, however, that our licenses contain "severability" clauses—meaning that, if a certain provision is found to be unenforeceable in a certain place, that provision and only that provision drops out of the license, leaving the rest of the agreement intact.

Note that every Creative Commons license requires licensees to attach the original license terms to every verbatim copy they distribute. So if you copy a music file licensed under a noncommercial license, you must tell the world that your copy of that file is also licensed under a noncommercial license. The Share Alike option simply extends this requirement to all derivative works as well. So if you were to use that same noncommercial MP3 in a documentary film, the Share Alike provision would oblige you to license your film under a noncommercial license, too.

To find out more information go to