HOWTO Use Creative Commons licenses

My latest Locus column is online: "Creative Commons" explains the fundamentals of using CC licenses for people who are interested in the idea but haven't tried it yet. I get a lot of email from people asking just how you apply licenses to your work.
After you check off a few boxes on the Creative Commons license form, you'll get a page with the license for your work. This consists of a short block of computer code you paste into your book, image, web page, or what-have-you. This code displays a graphic badge showing the license you've chosen, with a link back to the license and a block of hidden "machine readable" text. This is text that search-engines can use to figure out which files are shared, and under which terms (you can limit searches on Flickr, Google, or Yahoo to only show Creative Commons licensed results).

Additionally, the machine-readable version links to two other versions of the licenses – a "human readable" plain-language version that can be understood by anyone, and a "lawyer-readable" version of small print that says the same thing in legally binding terms.

Creative Commons licenses are international – over 80 countries have their own CC projects – and something licensed under CC in the USA can be combined with Israeli, Indian, Brazilian, Spanish, British, South African and German CC works without violating the terms of any of their licenses.



  1. Thanks for posting this! I’m currently writing a parody book about World of Warcraft, and I was having a discussion with my husband last night. I’m going the traditional publishing route, which means, of course, that I have to demonstrate my track record in my proposal. I was stressing-out about the fact that I don’t ALREADY HAVE a long list of books that demonstrate I’m a good risk for a publisher.

    He suggested that there’s always the option of putting my work out there online, just so people can see it, and, at the least, THAT could become a credit. He brought-up using Creative Commons, and I immediately remembered your name, Cory!

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