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Copyright: Creative Commons

A guide for CSUF faculty, staff, and students.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization created by Stanford law professor, Lawrence Lessig, and a community of web bloggers who were sharing and remixing content online. They published a set of free licenses in 2002 that allowed creators to easily share works on more flexible terms than just "all rights reserved." These licenses are enforceable in court and intended to be used globally. Today, about 1.6 billion works are available across 9 million websites through Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons licenses address the tension between digital technology and copyright law. Content creators want to take advantage of digital technologies to share their work, but copyright law, being designed to delineate, maintain and control intellectual property rights, is inherently restricting. Creative Commons provides a set of flexible licenses to address this tension, allowing authors to share their work on their own terms while maintaining their copyright. As all Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses, they are subject to the same limitations like fair use and the public domain.

In addition to being a non-profit organization and a set of copyright tools, Creative Commons is also a global network. The Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN) is a coalition of individuals, institutions, and contributors who share the vision and values of Creative Commons. The CCGN provides an overarching structure to coordinate activism around Creative Commons and issues like copyright reform and open education.

The Six Creative Commons Licenses

Attribution license or “CC BYimage of the CC-BY logo

  • The least restrictive Creative Commons license

Attribution-ShareAlike license or “BY-SA” image of the CC-BY-SA logo

Attribution-NonCommercial license or “BY-NCimage of CC-BY-NC logo


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license or “BY-NC-SAimage of CC-BY-NC-SA logo

Attribution-NoDerivatives license or “BY-NDimage of CC-BY-ND logo


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license or “BY-NC-NDimage of CC-BY-NC-ND logo

CC0 Public Domain "License"

CC0: Public Domain Dedication Toolimage of public domain dedication tool logo

  • "No Rights Reserved”

Licensing Tool

This page can help you choose the Creative Commons license that is right for you:


"Copyright: Creative Commons" is a derivative of the Creative Commons Certificate Course by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0. Anthony Davis Jr. adapted content from the January 2020 Creative Commons Certificate Course for this page.