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You’ve found work under a Creative Commons license that you want to reuse. Great! But how do you give credit in a proper way? That depends on the type of content you plan to use and the way you are using it. This article explains one of the most popular reuses: adding a photo or illustration to an article. To do this, you need to have the following information:

  1. What is the title of the work?
  2. Who is the author?
  3. Did you make modifications? If yes, what kind of modification(s)?
  4. Under what license is it available? (required!)
  5. Where did you find the work?

Elements and structure

The elements and structure to give credit of Creative Commons licensed content is:

[Original title], a [Modifications of] [Type of work] by [Author], [License]

For online use you have to add links to the following elements:

  1. Type of work: links to the original file that you’ve used on the platform where you’ve found the work. This is not only a way to prove that you are allowed to use the file by the author, but also to share the opportunity to use the work with others.
  2. Author: links to the profile of the author on that platform or his/her own website.
  3. License: links to the Creative Commons license under which the work has been made available. This link is mandatory!

The elements and structure for online use is:

[Original title], a [Modifications of] [Type of work = link to original] by [Author = link to creators profile], [License = link to license]


Singer/songwriter Marcel Harteveld presents his debut album Haat/liefde (Hate/Love) in Desmet in Amsterdam.
Marcel Harteveld presenteert zijn debuutalbum Haat/liefde, cropped and B&W version of a photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

The elements and their values in the example are:

  1. Original title: Marcel Harteveld presenteert zijn debuutalbum Haat/Liefde. This is the original Dutch title of the photo on Flickr. Translations are possible for descriptive titles like these. The title would then be: Marcel Harteveld presents his debut album Haat/liefde (Hate/Love).
  2. Modifications: the photo has been cropped and made black and white.
  3. Type of work: it is a photo.
  4. Author: the full name of the author. If the full name of the author is mentioned with the original image or on his/her profile page on the source website, then it is adviced to use that over his/her username. Adding both is possible too.
  5. License: Flickr (still) uses Creative Commons 2.0 licenses. Be as specific as possible with the the license. Make sure to add all information – for example Unported, International, Language and the version number – after the basic attributes like ND, NC, SA.

Placement of the credit

The credit has to be placed:

  • Preferably right next to the work. If this is not possible, you should make sure that the credit is on the same page and that it is easily understandable to which work the credit is referring.
  • In a human readable font, font size and font color.


Variations of the elements and structure are possible. You can see one on the website of Creative Commons. They’ve chosen to use a slightly different structure on their website. One of the differences is that they rarely make a modification to a work. The structure used there is:

[[Original title] by [Creator] = link to original], [License = link to license]

Bad variations

Unfortunately giving credit goes wrong very often. A lot of the information is left out and/or replaced by wrong information. Some examples of giving credit you should not use:

  • [Type of work]: [Source], [License]
  • Putting the information completely or partly in the on-mouse-over command.

(Links to bad examples will be added later).

By not crediting a work in the right manner you are risking being billed for the use and having to remove the work. When in doubt, contact the author!

More information

You can find more information on crediting Creative Commons licensed work on:

Other types of reuse

Articles to come in this series/this chapter are:

  • Images
    • Using a screenshot of a video as a still image
  • Video
    • Remixing video files
    • Using photos in a video
    • Using music in a video
  • Audio
    • Remixing audio files
    • Sampling