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How to attribute Creative Commons licensed materials - For Teachers and Students

Authors ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Creative Commons Australia National Copyright Unit Australia

License CC-BY-2.5

How to attribute Creative
Commons licensed materials
for Teachers and Students
This information guide was jointly developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and
Innovation through Creative Commons Australia and the Copyright Advisory Group of the Ministerial Council of
Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.
For further information contact Creative Commons Australia at

All Creative Commons licences require that users of the work attribute the creator. This is
also a requirement under Australian copyright law. This means you always have to
acknowledge the creator of the CC work you are using, as well as provide any relevant
copyright information.

For many users of CC material, attribution is one of the hardest parts of the process. This
information guide is designed to help you ensure you are attributing the creator of a CC
licensed work in the best possible way.

What to include when attributing a work
The same basic principles apply to providing attribution across all CC licences. When
attributing a work under a CC licence you should:
                   Credit the creator;
                   Provide the title of the work;
                   Provide the URL where the work is hosted;
                   Indicate the type of licence it is available under and provide a link to the
                   licence (so others can find out the licence terms); and
                   Keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work.

This may sound like a lot of information, but there is flexibility in the way you present it.
With a bit of clever formatting and linking, it is easy to include everything, particularly in
the digital environment.

                         This information pack is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia
                         licence. You are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work, so long as you attribute
                         the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, the National Copyright
                         Unit and Creative Commons Australia. A copy of this licence is available at
                or write to

Photos (left to right): “Teaching Math or Something” by foundphotoslj,; “Learning” by stefg,; “Teaching” by Jacob Bøtter,; “telemachus: the tower, 8
a.m., theology, white/gold, heir, narrative (young)” by brad lindert, All images licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence,
Of course, you do not have to include any information you cannot locate. However, you
should make a good effort to find the relevant information for the material you are
planning on using. Think about what you would want if it was your material that others
were using.

   FlickrStorm ( is an online search tool that
   helps you find high-quality, CC-licensed Flickr material and automatically
   generates an appropriate attribution. Searching for ‘lemon’ using FlickrStorm
   brings up the image below.

   Here is the complete                  Eid Mubarak by Hamed Saber available at
   CC attribution for the
   image.                                under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

                                                However, FlickrStorm provides a much
                                                shorter attribution in the bottom right
                                                hand corner of the photo (pictured left).
                                                Although the FlickrStorm attribution is
                                                very short it provides access to all the
                                                information requested by the CC licence
                                                (and more) by using clever linking:

                                                     When you roll your mouse over the
                                                     symbol, a pop up gives you the name
                                                     of and link to the CC licence
      The author’s name links to the author’s photostream on Flickr
      ( From there you can access their
      profile (;
      The photo itself links to the photo’s Flickr entry
      (, which includes the
      full title (Eid Mubarak) and other details; and
      The contact link gives you direct access to Flickr’s internal messaging system

   In the offline environment, where you can’t link, the attribution becomes more
   lengthy. But it still doesn’t have to
   be intrusive.

   Here is a good offline attribution
   for this photo that’s shorter than
   the one above. It indicates the
   name, title, source and licence
   (using the licence button). By
   including a link to the photo’s Flickr
   page, it also gives access to all the
   other information and links.

                                              Eid Mubarak by Hamed Saber

How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                                               2
Identifying the creator
Sometimes it can be hard to identify the person who created the material you are using.
Use common sense when determining who to attribute.

If you’re on a blog or news website with a number of authors, attribute the person
associated with the content you are reusing. Try to find a by-line (eg by Joan Citizen) or
the name of the person it was submitted by. If there is more than one author of the
content, you should attribute them all. It is a good practice in cases such as this to
attribute the publication as well.

Other times, it may be difficult to find the name of the creator. This is often the case for
websites like Flickr or Youtube, where the author may only be identified by their
username. It is always a good idea to see if you can find their legal name, for example in
the ‘about’ or ‘biography’ section of a website, on a profile page, or in the copyright
notice (eg © Joan Citizen 2009). While looking to find the creator’s legal name, you
should also check whether the creator has asked to be attributed in a particular way.

If you can’t find the legal name, use the pseudonym or username if there is one.

                                                   You want to use this photograph that you
                                                   found by searching Flickr for ‘aquariums’.
                                                   The photo is under a Creative Commons
                                                   Attribution 2.0 licence and is posted by
                                                   user ‘Qole Pejorian’.

                                                   You aren’t sure whether Qole Pejorian is
                                                   the user’s real name, so you click on the
                                                   profile name (ie ‘Qole Pejorian’) in the
                                                   right-hand column which takes you to
                                                   the user’s photostream. From here, you
                                                   access Qole Pejorian’s user profile by
                                                   clicking on 'Profile' at the top of the
                                                   photostream page.

   On Qole Perjorian’s profile page there is a statement which tells you that the
   photographer’s real name is Alan Bruce. It also includes information on how he
   wishes to be attributed.

   Following these instructions, you use the
   following attribution for the photograph,
   and leave a message on the photopage
   telling him about your use.

                       Vivian and the Giant Fish by
                       Alan Bruce, available under a
                       Creative Commons
                       Attribution Licence 2.0 at

How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                                       3
Attributing others
The creator of the work may also require other parties to be included in the attribution,
such as co-creators, sponsors or publishers. Where other parties are identified you
should also include them in the attribution. If you are unable to provide details of all the
parties, be sure to provide details of where you found the work (eg the website,
magazine, journal).

Always include the CC licence
Even though it can sometimes be difficult to provide all the information, you must
always include the details of the CC licence that the work is available under. This is so
other people know that you have permission to use the work, that they can use it as well
and under what conditions.

As you can see from the example above, the CC licences can be identified in several
ways. You can list the licence name in full, use the abbreviated form of the licence or use
either the thick or thin licence buttons.

This table shows the full licence name, abbreviated form and both licence buttons for
each of the six standard CC licences.

     Licence                                           Abbreviation   Licence buttons

      Attribution                                      BY


      Attribution-No Derivative Works



      Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works

      Attribution                                      BY


How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                                 4
Link to the site
As you can see from the above examples, it is also important that, where possible, you
provide a link to the site where you obtained the original work. This gives other people
the ability to easily access the original work themselves. Depending on the medium in
which you are reusing the work, this can be done by either using a hyperlink or the URL
as text. If the original work does not have an associated URL, you do not have to link
back to the original work.

Remixing the original work
If you change the original work in any way, such as cropping the work, changing the
colours or replacing words, you will be creating a derivative work of the original. You
should always attribute the original work in any derivative work and identify that changes
have been made to it.

Often the simplest way to do this is to use the phrase “This work is a derivative of…” and
attribute the original work as you would normally. If your work incorporates a number of
derivative works, you might say, “This work includes material from the following
sources…” and list each original work. It is a good idea to state the order you are listing
them in eg “This work includes material from the following sources (listed sequentially)…”

     !    It is important to remember that if you are using material under any of the
          licences that include the No Derivative Works element (ie Attribution-No
          Derivative Works, Attribution-Noncommerical-No Derivative Works) it cannot
          be altered in any way.

   All the content on poet and hip-hop artist CharlieHipHop’s website
   ( is available under a CC licence. Some of your students
   decide to use one of Charlie’s poems, ‘Let’s Get Moving’, as a rap in a video they
   are making. They change the words to suit the video topic.

   In the right hand column of his site
   CharlieHipHop displays the licence button
   and standard notice for the CC Attribution-
   Noncommercial-ShareAlike licence.

                                                                 Below    this    he     has
                                                                 provided a link to his own
                                                                          guidelines which
                                                                          outline in detail
                                                                          how he would
                                                                          like his songs to
                                                                          be attributed.

How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                                      5
   To comply with the CC licence and these                  The rap used in this film
   guidelines, your students include this                        was based on
   attribution for CharlieHipHop in the               ‘Lets get moving’ by CharlieHipHop
                                                     available at
   credits of their film.


Attributing in different mediums
Where possible, the same information should be included regardless of how you are
reusing the work. However, sometimes this is impractical or impossible. The CC licences
let you change the exact placement, language or level of detail from medium to medium,
as long as your attribution is still ‘reasonable to the medium’.

For example, when you are using CC material in a book, it is easy to provide a long,
written attribution with all the information next to the work, including the name and URL
of the licence spelled out in full (this is always a good idea when you are using CC
material offline, or in a document that you think people are likely to print out). However,
when you use a CC song in a podcast, it is trickier to provide this level of information.

Below are suggestions for how you might attribute a CC work in different mediums.
Remember, however, to always check whether the creator has specified a particular

  Books, magazines,       Remembering to spell out the licence type and URL in full, include the
  journals                relevant attribution information next to the CC work or as a footer
                          along the bottom of the page on which appears.

                          Alternatively, you can list the CC works in the back of the publication.
                          If you take this option, it is best to indicate the page number of the
                          work or order in which they appear in the publication.

  Photos and images       Provide the relevant attribution next to the photograph, or close by
                          (eg on the edge or bottom of the page) if that is too obtrusive.

  Slideshows              Include the relevant attribution information next to the CC work or as
                          a footer along the bottom of the work on each slide on which the
                          work appears.

                          Alternatively, you can include a ‘credits’ slide at the end of the show,
                          that lists all the materials used and their attribution details. Again,
                          you should indicate the slide or order so people can find the
                          attribution for a specific work.

  Film                    Include the relevant attribution information with the work when it
                          appears on screen during the film.

                          If this is not possible, attribute the work in the credits, just as you
                          would see in a normal film.

  Podcasts                Mention the name of the artist and that it is under a CC licence
                          during the podcast, like a radio announcement, and provide full
                          attribution on your website, next to where the podcast is available.

How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                                        6
Keep track of everything you use
Finally, in order to attribute properly, it is important that you keep track of all the
materials that you use as you use them. Finding materials later can be very difficult and
time consuming. Use the table below to keep track of all the CC material you use as you
use it.

 Author/s               Title                 Source                Licence
                                              (eg website)

How to attribute Creative Commons materials
for Teachers and Students                                                              7