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Creative Commons Licenses

Using Creative Commons Licenses to Protect and Enforce Your Copyright

As a photographer, you might have read this somewhere when you uploaded your photos on the Internet: “Do you want to license this under Creative Commons?” It might have led you to think about what exactly Creative Commons is, and what kind of protection it can give you and your photos.

Most artistic creators, including photographers, have probably wondered the same thing and have chosen whatever the default license is.

But what is it really? Can a Creative Commons license protect your copyright? Does it force you to forego some of your legal rights to your creations? Is it really necessary to put your work under the Creative Commons license?

What is a Creative Commons license?

To put it simply, a Creative Commons license standardizes a way to give the general public permission to use their creations under copyright law. It enables content creators from all walks of life a standardized method to permit other people to use their works.

Creative Commons is a public copyright license that would enable the free distribution of a copyrighted work so that other people can share, use, and build upon another person’s work. The only exception that cannot be licensed under CC is hardware and software.
There are six different license types:

  • CC BY – This allows others to distribute, remix, adapt, build on the work in any format, and allow commercial use. The other person needs to credit the original creator.
  • CC BY-SA – This is the same as the first one, with the requirement of any work derived from the original work must be shared under the same license.
  • CC BY-NC – This is the same as CC BY, but commercial use is not allowed.
  • CC BY-NC-SA – This is the same as CC-BY-SA, but commercial use is not allowed.
  • CC BY-ND – This allows others to reuse the work for any purpose, but it cannot be shared with others in adapted form. Commercial use is allowed, and others must credit the original creator.
  • CC BY-NC-ND – This is the most restrictive of the Creative Commons license, allowing others to share your works as long as credit is given back to the creator. It cannot be modified or commercially used.

How Can I Use Creative Commons licenses to Protect my Photos?

It is actually pretty easy to use any license to protect your photos. All you have to do is check which license you want to apply and familiarize yourself with the rights that each license gives to other users.

Once you have chosen which license is best for you, you can add a license generator and add the license to your photos. Most digital portfolio websites and online photo albums have a built-in way of licensing your photographs under Creative Commons.

When you are contemplating which licenses to use for your photos, make sure that:

  • You are specifying precisely which items you are licensing. Some works may have several elements, like text, images, and music. Clearly indicate which aspects you want to be covered. Also, consider anything that might not be part of a basic license, like rights held by third parties.
  • Consider anything that may apply to your work, such as employment agreements or contracts with someone else connected with your work. This will dictate which license should apply to your creations.
  • You may consider offering a warranty that your work does not violate any third-party rights.

Most works online add their licenses in their descriptions or a link to the license itself so that others can check. Others include a text in their work, which may say something like, “this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0,” with a link to the license applicable to the work.

Choosing the right license for your photographs can be confusing and complicated. Speaking to our experienced copyright lawyers at Sanders Law Group, can help ensure your rights are adequately protected.

Call Our Experienced Copyright Lawyers For All Copyright Needs

Did you see your photograph plastered on a billboard, printed on a magazine, or sold by someone else without crediting you – despite the photo being licensed under Creative Commons? Did someone edit your photo and upload it as his own work in his portfolio without giving you credit?

Our experienced copyright lawyers at Sanders Law Group, can help you enforce your legal rights to your original creative work. Our lawyers are dedicated to representing photographers and other creative professionals when they need help enforcing their copyrights.

Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers by calling 888-348-3090, and take the first step in protecting your copyright today.


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