Skip to Main Content

Creative Commons: Getting Started

Creative Commons licenses and resources for creating, sharing, and discovering content.


Welcome to the guide to Creative Commons!

In this guide, you will find information on the philosophy of Creative Commons and ways to maintain the rights to your intellectual property while still sharing your original works with the larger community. You can also find links to help you discover resources for finding Creative Commons works.


Profile Photo
Andrea Wirth

Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?

" "Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that works to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) available in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the  public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.

Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use legal tools that give everyone from individual “user generated content” creators to major companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to pre-clear usage rights to creative work they own the copyright to. CC licenses let people easily change their copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They apply on top of copyright, so you can modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

- from the handout What is Creative Commons?

Cycle of Creative Commons

Using Creative Commons licenses allows for original works to be shared with a greater community, remixed by others, and shared again. The following scenario explains the cycle of Creative Commons

A four-part cycle starting with "create" at the top, and going clockwise to "share", "remix," and "share" again.

Ava takes a photograph of her pet cat surrounded by flowers. She decides to share this photo on Flickr using a Creative Commons license which allows anyone to use the photograph and make changes to it as long as Ava is given credit as the original Photographer.

Elijah sees Ava's photograph and downloads it to his computer where he remixes the photo into an animated GIF of Ava's cat bouncing around with flower petals falling through the air. When he posts the GIF to his website, he gives Ava credit for the original photograph, linking to both her Flickr account, and to the Creative Commons license she has chosen for her work. He also adds a Creative Commons license to his remixed GIF.

Ji Soo has written a short piece of music which she plans to post on her YouTube channel. She sees Elijah’s GIF and decides to use it in the background video of her piece of music. She posts her song on YouTube with the animated GIF playing for the video and gives proper credit to Elijah and Ava.

Each of the three has benefited from using Creative Commons licensing for their work.

© University of Nevada Las Vegas