The Creative Commons was founded in 2001 with the premise of creating a tool for creators to share their works with the public without renouncing copyright or necessitating personal licenses.

With a Creative Commons license, creators allow the public to use, distribute, and edit his or her work under certain conditions, or to simply open up the works to the public domain. The Creative Commons is comprised of multiple experts in a variety of specialties, touching on the fields of science, technology, education, and government. It has grown exponentially since its conception.

There are six different Creative Commons licenses, and each is described below:

  1. Attribution Only: This is the baseline license. Regardless of use, this license simply requires the user to provide “appropriate credit” to the creator as defined by Creative Commons terms. The user must also indicate if changes were made to the original work. Appropriate credit includes the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the original material.
  2. Attribution, ShareAlike: This builds upon the Attribution Only license. When a user edits or builds upon the original creator’s work, the same license applies to the new, edited work. For example, Work #1 is edited by a user to become Work #1A. Work #1A carries the same license, and it cannot be prohibited from being shared, edited, or built upon by others. In sum, Work #1 can become a chain of Work#1A, Work#1AB, and so on, and the same Creative Commons license applies, no matter the editor of the work.
  3. Attribution, No Derivatives: This provides an Attribution Only license but without the ability to make changes to the original work. In basic terms, the public can use the material and must give “appropriate credit” to the creator, but the public may not edit the original material in any way.
  4. Attribution, Non-Commercial: This is an Attribution Only license where the work may only be changed in a non-commercial way (i.e. “cannot be used for commercial advantage or monetary gain”). It may only be shared in a non-commercial way. The work must also be given “appropriate credit”, as described above. One trick: the derivative work done by editors does not have to be licensed in the same terms as the original. (This is a confusing one!)
  5. Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike: This provides an Attribution, Non-Commercial license, where work may only be changed and shared in a non-commercial manner, but the derivative work done by an editor must also be licensed the same as the original work.
  6. Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives: This is the most stringent license. It allows others to use a creation and share it with others as long as “appropriate credit” is used, but users may not edit the original work or share for commercial reasons.

In conclusion, the Creative Commons allows creators to share their work with the public under their terms and with control over the means by which it is shared. As a small business owner, entrepreneur, scientist, or any of the multitudes of vocations tied to the creative work, the Creative Commons could be a helpful avenue by which to share your work with the public, all while protecting your rights to the material.



This post was written with the help of Madeline Quoss. At the time of this post’s publication, Eden was a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia.