The right license for the job


Learn to recognize factors that may affect the choice of license.

Overview

Choosing the right CC license for a work can be a deliberative and thought-provoking process, but it doesn't have to be. We describe license-choosing in more detail below, but if you want to pick one quickly, Creative Commons has a simple tool for choosing a license based on a couple questions about how you'd like people to use your work.

Creative Commons license chooser

Basically, when you're looking to share your work with others, ask yourself: do I want to allow commercial use of my work or not, and then second, do I want to allow modifications of my work or not? If you're not concerned about commercial use or controlling modifications of your work (in fact, you'd love it if people made derivative works based on yours!), then you can use the CC Attribution (CC BY) license. If you want to allow derivative works, but require that any derivatives also be made open, you can add the ShareAlike condition.

It doesn't hurt to think a bit more deeply about what uses you want to permit and even encourage. Every creator has specific interests and levels of comfort with sharing work, so it's important to take that into account when making a license choice. One person's pro could be another person's con. Different communities have varying sharing requirements, so choosing a license might need to conform with your community of interest. For example, the Free Culture community only views the Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike licenses as acceptable for a work to be "free". Creative Commons has been collecting a wide variety of examples of people in music, education, and social justice, all using CC licensing for their work.

Much as we love CC licenses, they are not appropriate for all situations. CC offers a handful of possibilities to consider before you decide on a license.

Exercise

First, decide what license you think the creator in each scenario would choose. Then go to the Creative Commons license chooser tool and answer the questions like you were the creator.

  1. You are a relatively obscure musician who wants as many people to discover your music as possible, but also wants to be able to reserve the commercial right to sell your work. Which license(s) might you choose?
  2. You are an elementary school teacher who has created a great resource on how the solar system works, and want other teachers to benefit. Which license(s) would you choose?
  3. You are an amateur photographer who has taken photos of landmarks in your area and want them to be featured in their Wikipedia articles. Which license(s) do you choose?

 

In each case, was the license chooser result the same license you chose? If not, what do you think happened that led to the discrepancy? Did you choose different licenses depending on the type of creator? If so, why? What was different?

Hint

Ready to CC license your own work? Try this other P2PU challenge: "Get a CC license. Put it on your website."

Task Discussion


  • jbalen said:

    1. Creative Commons License  Attribution Non-commercial-Sharealike. To gain exposure the artist will want anyone to use the work, remix, or extend it as well as to share it out. But he/she will want the license to be non-commerical so that the possiblity of using the work commercially remains in his/her hands. 

     

    2. Creative Commons License  Educator may choose to have the work completely open, only requring attribution. This allows for the most distribution of the work, which is a goal of education. Share, share, share. 

    Or the educator might choose Attribution-Sharealike to help ensure that the work, however, it is modified or remixed continues to be shared openly. 

    Creative Commons License

     

    3. Creative Commons License

    Wkipedia is built on the premise of open culture and sharing. Users of the photographs have to give attribution, but they also have to share them with the same license. This helps to keep open content, open.

    on March 30, 2013, 4:03 a.m.
  • Isobel said:

    1. The recommendable license for the musician is an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs, with an International Jurisdiction (The question does not specify whether the musician wants to give permission for its compositions to be modified, but I assume he/she doesn't. It depends very much on the music genre).

     

    2. In this case, because it's a creation with educational purposes, I would choose an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Since it's an educational resource, derivations/modification should be allowed for the particular class that is using it. The jurisdiction would also be up to the teacher, but if it's a very region-specific educational resource, then it would be better to ascribe it to the country where it will be used.

     

    3. A creation for Wikipedia should have an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

    on March 23, 2013, 2:26 p.m.

    Jane Park said:

    Re 2: Why would the teacher also add the Noncommercial condition?

    Re 3: Can you say a little more about why? Wikipedia is under a default CC BY-SA license and CC BY-NC-SA is a different license..

    on March 25, 2013, 7:38 p.m. in reply to Isobel
  • TK said:

    1. The musician would choose: 

    <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-nd/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License</a>.

    I think the musician would want others to discover, but not necessarily modify his music.

     

    2. The teacher would choose 

    <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-sa/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>.

    The teacher would find it important that other teachers be able to modify her original material for their particular classrooms

     

    2. The photographer would also choose  

    <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-sa/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>.

    The photographer would want the photos to be modifiable in case someone needed to change them in some way for the wikipedia article 

     

    In each case, my thoughts on which license the creator would choose lined up with the tool's choice. 

    on March 23, 2013, 12:22 p.m.

    Jane Park said:

    Re 2: Why would the teacher also add the Noncommercial condition?

    Re 3: Wikipedia is under a default CC BY-SA license. Does this change your answer?

     

    on March 25, 2013, 7:39 p.m. in reply to TK
  • Chilebean said:

    1. Musician 

    Creative Commons Licence
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

     

    2. Teacher

     

    Creative Commons Licence
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    3. Photographer

     

    Creative Commons Licence
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

    on March 22, 2013, 11:03 a.m.

    Chilebean said:

    I think I would change 1. Musician to have a Share Alike option.  People love to remix music, thus, the ND option is not a good one.

    on March 22, 2013, 11:06 a.m. in reply to Chilebean

    Jane Park said:

    Re 3: Wikipedia is under a default CC BY-SA license. How might this influence the photographer's choice? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyrights

    on March 25, 2013, 7:41 p.m. in reply to Chilebean
  • Popi said:

    1. Musician:  CC BY  NC  ND

    2. Teacher:   CC  BY  SA NC

    3. Photographer: CC BY SA NC

    on March 20, 2013, 12:18 p.m.

    Jane Park said:

    Hey Popi - close but the order of conditions is CC BY-NC-SA, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ for example.

    on March 25, 2013, 7:36 p.m. in reply to Popi
  • Susan said:

    1. Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (I used the license tool for this—what is 3.0 unported?)
    2. Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.
    3. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0Unported.
    on March 19, 2013, 4:36 p.m.

    Jane Park said:

    Re "3.0": 3.0 is so far the latest version of the CC licenses, as we've released several since CC first drafted its licenses in 2002. We are actually about to publish the newest version (4.0) very soon. Each version improves on the previous, especially to keep up-to-date with changing laws around the world. It's a pretty rigorous process, and one of the biggest reasons CC exists as an organization. :)

    Re "unported": From our FAQ, "One of Creative Commons’ goals is ensuring that all of its legal tools work globally. To this end, CC offers a core suite of six international copyright licenses (formerly called the "unported") that are drafted based on various international treaties governing copyright. CC offers these international licenses so that anyone, anywhere in the world can share their work on globally standard terms.

    Creative Commons also offers ported versions of its six, core licenses for many jurisdictions (usually jurisdiction = country, but not always). These ported licenses are based on the international license suite but have been modified to reflect any local nuances in the expression of legal terms and conditions, drafting protocols and, of course, language. The ported licenses and the international licenses are all intended to be legally effective everywhere..."

    on March 19, 2013, 4:58 p.m. in reply to Susan
  • David Boxer said:

    I would make the following suggestions:

    1. Relatively obscure musician.  I would suggest that s/he use the  Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Creative Commons License
    2. Elementary school teacher who has created a great resource on how the solar system works, and want other teachers to benefit.   I would suggest that s/he use Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.  Creative Commons License
    3. Amateur photographer who has taken photos of landmarks in your area and want them to be featured in their Wikipedia articles.   I would suggest that s/he use  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported LicenseCreative Commons License

    In each case, I would suggest a different license due to the intention of the musician/teacher/artist audience.  

    (By the way, I am big fan of the CC License Selection Tool, which I was not aware of before this course.) 

    on March 18, 2013, 3:16 p.m.

    Chilebean said:

    I agree, I am now a big fan of the CC License Selection Tool.

    on March 22, 2013, 11:04 a.m. in reply to David Boxer
  • Tony said:

    1. For the musician = BY-NC-ND-SA
    2. For the teacher = BY-NC-SA.
    3. For the photographer = BY-NC-ND-SA
    on March 18, 2013, 7:33 a.m.

    malicke said:

    Hi Tony, I see that you selected a ND license for both 1 & 3, but not 2. Can you elaborate? I'm curious to know why you'd choose a ND license for musicians and photographers, but not for teachers. 

    on March 18, 2013, 11:46 a.m. in reply to Tony

    malicke said:

    How does everyone else feel about the use of ND licenses?

    on March 18, 2013, 12:02 p.m. in reply to malicke

    Jane Park said:

    Hey Tony,

    For 1 and 3, you cannot actually combine the ND and SA conditions. SA only applies where derivatives are involved (you would share-alike your derivative under the same license); therefore if you attach the ND condition, you are saying no derivatives allowed, which means that SA doesn't make sense in those cases.

    Best,

    Jane

    on March 19, 2013, 2:40 p.m. in reply to Tony
  • Cheryl H. said:

    1. My choice of BY NC ND was spot on with the license chooser.  As a musician, I want my music to be out there for others to enjoy and appreciate. Hey, maybe a producer will get a hold of it.

    2. Again, the choice of BY NC SA is the correct choice for the teacher. We want others to use our work, but rarely do we expect anyone to pay us for it.

    3. Checking on the wikipedia.org website, all their contributions are licensed BY SA; however, as a photographer, I would want to add ND so my photos couldn't be altered.

    on March 17, 2013, 10:53 p.m.

    malicke said:

    For number 3: what is your biggest concern when thinking about others altering and building upon your work?

    on March 18, 2013, 11:42 a.m. in reply to Cheryl H.
  • mixmaxmin said:

    As the musician I would choose CC-BY-NC-ND because this would give attribution, ensure it is not used commercially and, as I do not wish my artistic output to be modified, I choose no-derivatives as well. Other musicians may be happy with a SA share alike arrangement, but I am not.

    As a teacher I entered the profession to share knowledge and I would choose the CC-BY-SA license.  I do not think that I am producing, on a day-to-day basis, anything that needs to be protected with a NC non-commercial hold; Perhaps some of my more extensive work could require that. And, I also add the share-alike because I would like to create a momentum for others to do the same and have lots of material available over time.

     

    As the photographer I chhose the CC-BY-NC-SA licence as I am happy for the material I generate to be shared in a non commercial manner and would like to see and encourage others to do the same. I am also happy for others to make derivative works from my material. When I become a famous photographer I may change my mind on what I release after that.

    on March 12, 2013, 11:53 p.m.
  • v4lent1na said:

    For the musician either BY-NC-SA or BY-NC-ND.

    For the teacher I'd use BY-NC-SA.

    For the photographer either BY-NC-SA or BY-SA (?).

    on March 6, 2013, 12:58 p.m.
  • Brad said:

     

    1. CC-BY-NC For the teacher

    2. CC-BY for the teacher though she may want to add a NC and SA? 

    3. CC-BY-SA for the photographer 

    on Feb. 27, 2013, 8:05 p.m.
  • emmajayneyoung22 said:

    CC-BY-NC  - the musician can then retain their ability to commercially sell

     CC-BY

    CC-BY-SA

    on Feb. 3, 2013, 6:57 a.m.
  • Andrea said:

    I agree with Kathleen's comment about making this challenge into a quiz format. The examples are fun but something like a multiple choice quiz with feedback on answers would be more interactive and provide more direction and reasoning for decisions.

    on Jan. 11, 2013, 3:09 p.m.

    Jane Park said:

    That's a good idea Andrea. Currently, P2PU platform doesn't have built in quiz capabilities, but I could imagine using an external tool and linking to it for a later iteration..

    on Jan. 11, 2013, 3:12 p.m. in reply to Andrea
  • Aiden Drake said:

    1)This seems like a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported although the author may want to share alike.

    2)Probably just a attribution lisence, although the teacher might want to share alike (so that all teachers could access the remixes.)

    3)the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License is the one that Wikpedia is licensed under, so the photographer would have to choose that license.

    on Jan. 9, 2013, 4:20 p.m.
  • Priya said:

    I'm fascinated by the fact that people would choose NOT to include the NC in their license. One participant mentioned that he posts photos without NC because he never planned to profit off them anyways. But what about the aspiring photographer who does want to make a living off his work? The fact that each of us can produce and share content has exponentially increased humanity's collective creative output -- a wonderful thing. But what about writers, photographers, artists, musicians, etc. who want to make a living off their creative output? Are they relegated to having a day job to pay the bills and reserving creative activity for their free time? This isn't a new question, but still one worth examining.

    Broad question about shifting state of our economy aside, I'm glad that CC exists to give all of us control over the work we create.

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 2:55 p.m.

    Piet said:

    some audio of our discussion on the topic.

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 3:56 p.m. in reply to Priya
  • ellen said:

    1. CC-BY-NC (to retain commercial right to sell)

    2. CC-BY (so that the other teachers could adapt as necessary to their own needs).

    3. CC-BY-SA 

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 2:49 p.m.
  • Michael Barera said:

    For exercise, I would recommend:

    1. CC-BY-NC for the "obscure musician"

    2. CC-BY for the teacher

    3. CC-BY-SA for the photographer with Wikipedia aspirations

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 2:43 p.m.
  • Kathleen O said:

    A few years ago, Creative Commons released a primer about why CC BY may be preferable to a NC sometimes of the gray area of what qualifies as Noncommerical (i.e. is it about profit ? can you charge at marginal cost of production?): http://learn.creativecommons.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ccLearn_primer-Why_CC_BY.pdf

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 2:39 p.m.
  • Kathleen O said:

    I think it would be more effective to give a quiz with feedback in a new window. If people post answers in the comments, there's no incentive for new participants to answer them. 

    on Oct. 26, 2012, 2:30 p.m.