How to attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

A good rule of thumb is to recall the acronym TAL, which stands for Title, Author, and License.

  • Title and Source – What is the name of the material? Please provide the title of the work you are adopting. Be sure to hyperlink the title to the original sources. If a hyperlink is not available, describe where you got the work.
  • Author – Who owns the material? Please name the author or authors of the material in question. Sometimes, the licensor may want you to give credit to some other entity, like a company or pseudonym. In those cases, please just do what they request. Also, if the author has a webpage, please link to the author’s page.
  • License – How can I use it? Please provide the exact name of the Creative Commons license under which the work was released, and hyperlink the license name to the license deed page. You can use the acronyms instead of full name of the license.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help you build the attribution text so you can simply copy and paste the text from the tool into your materials.

The Open Attribution Builder

(http://www.openwa.org/open-attrib-builder/) is a web tool to assist users of CC material to properly attribute.  It allows you to enter the Title, URL for work, Author and website, Organization, and CC license type and will provide attribution information which can be copied and pasted into your own work containing the CC material.  Here is an example of using the tool to provide its own attribution.

“Open Attribution Builder” by Open Washington, SBCTC is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Remixing the original work

If you change the original work in any way, such as cropping an image, 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 “Adapted from …” or “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, “Adapted from the following sources…” and list each original work sequentially.

Note: Keep in mind that materials that have the Non-Derivatives license term (CC-BY-ND, CC-BY-NC-ND)  are only allowed to be copied or redistributed as-is but NOT remixed.

Where you should place the attribution

For text resources (eg. books, worksheets, PowerPoint slides, etc), include the attribution details where it naturally makes sense, such as immediately preceding or following the work, or as the footer along the bottom of the page on which the CC work appears. For videos, include the attribution information near the work as it appears on screen during the video. For sound recordings (eg podcasts), mention the name of the artist during the recording (like a radio announcement) and provide full attribution details in text near the podcast where it is being stored (eg. blog, school intranet, learning management system, etc).

Materials on this page were adapted from:

  1. The Creative Commons Wiki licensed under CC BY 4.0.
  2. How to attribute Creative Commons licensed Materials by National Copyright Unit, Copyright Advisory Groups (Schools and TAFEs) licensed under CC BY 4.0
  3. “Open Attribution Builder” by Open Washington, SBCTC licensed under CC BY 4.0