Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a legal tool that grants advance permission to use a work1 (text, image, music) in various ways (copying, distribution, modification, and adaptation) while abiding by national copyright laws.

Created in 2001 by American attorney Lawrence Lessig, CC licenses allow digital works to be shared and reused. CC licenses were initially born out of the open source and free software movements and have exploded in popularity, with ever increasing numbers of people publishing their work and creations under such licenses. At the time of the concept’s 20th anniversary in June 2021, two billion works had been published under CC licenses.2

The six types of licenses are combinations of the following four options:

  •    Attribution (abbreviated BY)
     Authorship is attributed to the author of the original work (required under French law).
  •     NonCommercial (abbreviated NC)
     The work cannot be used for commercial or financial gain.
  •     NoDerivs (abbreviated ND)
     The work may not be adapted. For example, ND prohibits the cropping of photos, translation of texts, and sampling of music.
  •    ShareAlike (abbreviated SA)
     The work may be shared as long as it is under the same or similar (updated or localized) license terms. If the work is not modified, SA does not apply.


A CC-BY-NC-SA is an Attribution–NonCommercial–ShareAlike license.

A CC0 notice is not a license but a statement by which a copyright holder renounces their property and moral rights.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative commons license spectrum fr

Simon Villeneuve (French translation), CC BY-SA 4.0. Source:

Creative Commons license resources in French

SOcle: Clés pour la Science Ouverte. 2022. Savoir utiliser les licences [How to use licenses]:

Fily, M.F. 2015. ConnaÎtre et utiliser les licences Creative Commons, en 6 points [Understanding and using Creative Commons licenses in 6 steps]. Montpellier (FRA): CIRAD, 11 p.

CCSD and Inist-CNRS. 2018. Les licences Creative Commons (tutoriel) [Creative Commons licenses (tutorial)]:

Inist-CNRS. 2022. Guide des licences ouvertes [Guide to open licenses]:

Lebert M. 2021. Actualitte - Histoire de l’ebook #11 [History of the ebook #11] - La licence Creative Commons [Creative Commons licenses]:


1. In theory, licenses apply only to works protected by copyright and to which the author owns the property rights (the right to grant or prohibit the use of their work by others).

2. Lebert M. 2021. Actualitte - Histoire de l’ebook #11 [History of the ebook #11] - La licence Creative Commons [Creative Commons licenses]: