FAQ: “What if I change my mind about the CC license?” or “What if the creator changes their CC license?”

Please Note: Creative Commons does not provide legal advice. This FAQ is designed to be helpful in raising awareness about the use of CC licenses. It is not a substitute for legal advice. It may not cover important issues that affect you and you may wish to consult with a lawyer.

If you’ve been using CC-licensed materials (from others), at some point you might ask yourself: “What if the other person changes the CC license?

For example, let’s say you’re in a business that makes videos. A year earlier, you found my music website and used one of my CC-BY licensed music (the CC-BY license allows for commercial use). You’ve attributed the music accordingly in the video, and you’re selling your videos. A year later, you find out that I’ve changed my CC-BY license to CC-BY-NC.

So you’re asking, does that mean you can’t sell that video anymore? Since I’ve changed the CC license.

Here’s the thing: “Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable.”

As a creator, when I’ve adopted a CC license, it means I’ve also accepted the following terms:

What if I change my mind?
Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone, who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license, from using the work according to that license. You can stop distributing your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish; but this will not withdraw any copies of your work that already exist under a Creative Commons license from circulation, be they verbatim copies, copies included in collective works and/or adaptations of your work. So you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy for people to be using your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work.

Source: Creative Commons FAQ Wiki – “What if I change my mind?” (last accessed 22 Oct 2010). CC-BY 3.0.

Now back to you, i.e the viewpoint of the person who used my music for your commercially-sold video. You ought to have the assurance that as long as you’ve adhered to the stated CC terms of use — at the point of use — then you should be covered.

~ Ivan (CC-SG Community Manager)

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