Archive for the ‘ Q&A | Educate ’ Category

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)


How do I properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

From the Creative Commons FAQ page:

All current CC licenses require that you attribute the original author(s). If the copyright holder has not specified any particular way to attribute them, this does not mean that you do not have to give attribution. It simply means that you will have to give attribution to the best of your ability with the information you do have. Generally speaking, this implies five things:

  • If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, you must leave those notices intact, or reproduce them in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which you are re-publishing the work.
  • Cite the author’s name, screen name, user identification, etc. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice to link that name to the person’s profile page, if such a page exists.
  • Cite the work’s title or name, if such a thing exists. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work.
  • Cite the specific CC license the work is under. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice if the license citation links to the license on the CC website.
  • If you are making a derivative work or adaptation, in addition to the above, you need to identify that your work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”

In the case where a copyright holder does choose to specify the manner of attribution, in addition to the requirement of leaving intact existing copyright notices, they are only able to require certain things. Namely:

  • They may require that you attribute the work to a certain name, pseudonym or even an organization of some sort.
  • They may require you to associate/provide a certain URL (web address) for the work.

If you are interested to see what an actual license (“legalcode”) has to say about attribution, you can use the CC Attribution 3.0 Unported license as an example. Please note that this is only an example, and you should always read the appropriate section of the specific license in question … usually, but perhaps not always, section 4(b) or 4(c):

Source: Creative Commons Abbreviated FAQ, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

FFAQ - CC Wiki: How do I properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

The full CC FAQ can be read here.

“Do we have to apply to get a CC license?” and other questions

Some people have asked CC-SG members:

Question: Do we have to apply to get a CC license?

Question: If I upload stuff for others to use, all i have to do is specify that I want to have [the work] covered under CC license and that’s considered done?

Question: How is CC different from Copyright.

Well, I was going to create our own FAQ section for Creative Commons Singapore. But why reinvent the wheel?

The site already has an excellent compilation of responses to FAQs about CC, covering questions asked by people thinking about applying a Creative Commons license to their work, to those thinking about using other people’s Creative Commons-licensed work, to those interested in Technical Questions (like incorporating CC metadata), and by people who are just curious about the concept and organisation behind Creative Commons.

Creative Commons cited on IPOS website

The CC-SG team (specifically Chung Nian and Giorgos) have had cordial discussions with IPOS previously. Recently the nice folks at IPOS informed us that they’ve provided information about CC at this IPOS webpage, on Ownership & Rights:
[Last accessed: 10 Jun 09]
IPOS website mentioning Creative Commons

[Scroll to the bottom of the page]

IPOS website mentioning Creative Commons

The text says:

Creative Commons

Some copyright owners across jurisdictions have adopted licences provided by Creative Commons (CC).

CC is a non-profit organisation that provides licences and tools to allow owners of copyright material to designate the conditions (or “attributes”) under which their material may be used worldwide.

CC licences are not an alternative to copyright. In fact, they apply existing copyright law.

Users of CC licensed material are permitted to use the material without the need to further seek explicit permission from the owner, so long as the use conforms to the licence attributes.

Material released under a CC licence is not necessarily in the “public domain”, as the licensor using a CC licence does not have to give up all rights to his/her material.

CC licences are offered to the public at no charge and no registration is required to use a CC licence.

More information on CC licences can be found here.


[UPDATE 17 Jun 09: Thanks to Michelle Thorne for plugging this, here and here]

Where can I find Creative Commons licensed media> (or “30+ Places To Find Creative Commons Media”)

Received this tweet from Kevin Lim:
30+ Places To Find Creative Commons Media

Kevin’s link brought me to this post ( by Sean P Aune. His article annotates “30 of the best resources online for audio, video, images and more for finding just the perfect Creative Commons licensed item for use in your next project”, covering Audio, General Searches, Images, Text, and Videos.

Lots of useful stuff from that article (thanks again, Kevin).

Article: Creative Commons: A License to Share

From International Business Times (25 Mar 09):

In July 2008, Singapore became the 47th country to offer the CC system of licensing to their jurisdiction. Warren Chik, law professor at the Singapore Management University, is a member of the Creative Commons Singapore team that has worked in close collaboration with Centre for Asia Pacific Technology Law & Policy (CAPTEL) to adapt the licenses to Singapore’s jurisdiction. As Chik points out, beneath their easy-to-grasp wording, these licenses actually reflect significant social and technological changes – to say nothing of political – that have been unfolding in recent years…

… In 1710, Britain enacted the Statute of Anne, the first law to formally express such key concepts as copyright (hence intellectual property rights) belonging to the author or creator of a work. Specific time limits for copyright were also introduced after which a work became “public domain”.

… Today, most of the world has extremely strong copyright laws, based on the premise that more intellectual property rights (IPRs) will translate into more creativity. However, present-day technologies such as the Internet and mobile digital networks are redefining and transforming our sense of authorship and copyright. Although the cyberspace may be virtual in a certain sense, lawyers are trying to adapt existing laws to fit the digitised world.

… Critics of IPR protection claim that, like science and technology, culture grows by accretion and therefore depends on a rich and truly public domain…

… This has led to some who argue for a reconsideration of notions of common ownership, what is deemed appropriate for the public domain and how which, in turn, can be more readily applied in electronic transactions, he adds.

… So what is the Creative Commons framework bringing to the on-going debate? “The main basis of the argument against a default position of full copyright protection that the CC movement is seeking to remedy, is that the right of re-use can beget greater overall creativity albeit inspired by the source of an original creation as well as promote the benefits of information sharing without restrictions based on wealth,” says Chik.

The legal basis for this argument is the Utilitarian model –- inspired by the likes of 19th century English philosophers, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill — whereby a set of legal rules should maximise the overall benefits to society.

“In the end, there is no clear right or wrong position to be taken and probably no perfect calibration for what is to be protected and what should be shared. But as we have seen, the market and cultural forces will continually seek as optimal a balance as possible between interest parties through the framework and in the context of the law,” says Chik.

Full article, here.

Creative Commons: A License to Share – International Business Times -. (n.d.). . Retrieved March 27, 2009, from

Creative Commons – What, How, Why

Here are slides for my presentation at the Creative Crew Singapore meeting on 10 Mar 09. Some people told me the slides were useful in understanding more about CC, so I’m sharing it here:

The PDF copy can be downloaded here (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Singapore License. For permissions beyond the scope of this license, please contact