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What Creative Commons Licenses Mean for Image Use

If you have been looking around for free images you can use on your blog or website, you have more likely than not come across Creative Commons. This is a kind of license that allows you to search for and find free images as long as you abide by the copyrighted license guidelines. If you find a Creative Commons licensed image, you will need to follow some instructions to use it legitimately, but that requires knowing a little more about it first.

About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is an organization created as a not-for-profit to provide simple instructions about copyright licenses. These licenses are intended to inform others what they can and cannot do with the media in question, which includes images, audio and video files. Creative Commons licenses have two main purposes: letting others use them for free without getting consent from the owner, and letting image creators decide what the permissions for the images are to be. When using free images, it is highly recommended that you look through Creative Commons licenses first as it helps you determine what they can and can’t be used for.

What Are Creative Commons Licenses?
Creative Commons licenses are essentially licenses that permit others to use the creator’s images or other media files, while letting them know how and where they can use the image in question. If you see an image with a Creative Commons license, it means you need to read through the license to see what you can do with it, but that you are permitted to use it for free without asking for their permission. There are a number of different licenses, each of which means a different thing. Read below to find out exactly what each license means.

What Does Each License Mean?
This is a list of all the Creative Common licenses you might run into when looking for free images.

  • Attribution (CC BY) – The attribution license means that you are able to use the image commercially, including editing, remixing and distributing it, as long as you credit the creator for the image. You must include their name on the pages where you use the image.
  • Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) – This license is similar to the attribution license in what you can do with the image except when you alter an image, you need to credit it with identical terms to the original.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY NC) – The attribution non-commercial license is just as it suggests; you must credit the original creator of the image, but you cannot use it for commercial use. This means personal websites or blogs are fine with the credit used.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike (CC BY NC SA) – Like the previous ShareAlike license, the non-commercial one means that you cannot use it for commercial use, and must credit the creator with identical terms.
  • Attribution No-Derivatives (CC BY ND) – If a license says attribution no-derivatives, it means it can be used for non-commercial, commercial and redistribution use if it is not changed, edited or remixed whatsoever and includes a credit to the creator.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial, No-Derivatives (CC BY NC ND) – This license is the same as the previous, but cannot be used for commercial use. If you have a personal blog, you’re free to use it without changing it and giving credit to the creator.

With this information in mind, begin your search for free images. However, keep the licensing legitimate by following their rules and never using an image that is not allowed for the intended purpose. If a Creative Commons license states not for commercial use, you must abide by these rules.

Sources:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
http://www.lib.umich.edu/copyright/using-cc-licensed-material

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