Creative Commons 101

Creative Commons (CC), generally speaking, is much easier and safer to use than traditional copyrighted material.  Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.  It provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.

Basically, there are licenses that the creators of the content choose that let you know the ways in which you may use their material – some just want credit while others prohibit any use for profit (see below for the full breakdown). If you’re looking for CC material, just try their user-friendly search function. For more tips on using free video content, look at the section on finding and playing video from Tactical Technology Collective’s Message in a Box toolkit.

Top 5 tips on Creative Commons

  1. Creative Commons allows creators to state clearly, safely, and legally how they will allow their work to be used.
  2. There are various levels of CC license, from “Attribute” (most permissive) to “NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.”
  3. To select your license, click here.
  4. If someone else’s work is marked with a CC license, you can use it without asking them just by following the conditions linked to by the license itself.
  5. CC licensing is permanent and irrevocable.

The above tips, and the handy explanations of the abbreviations used in CC licenses, are courtesy of Make Internet TV.


Attribution (BY)

Attribution is the basic component of all CC licenses and merely requires anyone using, sharing, or re-mixing your videos to give you credit in the way in which you specify.

Share Alike

ShareAlike (SA)

ShareAlike licenses requires that if a person modifies your video, they must share the resulting media under the exact same CC license. This is license is great because it encourages people to use your videos and to share their work in the same capacity!


Non-Commercial (NC)

Adding the non-commercial stipulation means that a person can’t sell your videos or any resulting media that incorporates your work. This might discourage websites using Google Adsense from featuring your videos, and can discourage others from further reusing your work.

No Derivatives

NoDerivatives (ND)

NoDerivatives restricts people from modifying your work. Be aware that NoDerivatives very much limits what people can do with your work downstream and will discourage people from reusing your work creatively. Mashups are a great example of how video and culture can be remixed and refined (example of mashup, Girl Talk Video). Despite this, you may want to consider NoDerivatives licenses if you are making video that contains footage you don’t want remixed, such as interviews or other sensitive content.
What’s Next? Finalize Your Video Advocacy Plan

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