Blogging / Business / Collaboration / Commons / Education / Open Educational Resources

How to: Get a Creative Commons License for your Blog or Website

Scrolling through my social media feeds, I stumbled across a Google+ post shared with me asking how I was able to attach a Creative Commons license to my blog.  I am stoked (yes, I said stoked) to see more people looking into alternative forms of copyright that allow increased sharing, remixing, and collaborating far beyond what an “all rights reserved” license does.  If you’ve read this far, you clearly have an interest in licensing your work with a CC license…or possibly finding out how you can use work that has been created with such a license.  Here’s a short (3min) video from Creative Commons that explains how it works:

Creative Commons Wanna Work Together Video

(CC Licensed, click for video)

Now that you have a sense for why using a creative commons license is an awesome idea, it’s time for you to select a license that fits with your idea of how you want your content to be available to the world.  There are a couple of different licenses you can get via, but you should carefully choose the one you wish to use to license your work!  Once a license has been attached to a piece of your work, all copies of that work that have been distributed with that license will continue to be covered under that license.  You can change the license you attach to your work (ex. for an updated version of the same work) but there’s no retroactive way to un-license work you’ve already shared.

Penny for Your Thoughts Work

Also, for those of you concerned that if you openly-license your work with a CC license, you’ll never be able to make a penny from it: you’re covered!  You poured your blood, sweat, and tears into a paper, video, or photo album, and then attached a CC BY-NC-SA license to it.  The “NC” portion of this license stands for “non-commercial” and is a critical aspect of CC licensing.  But what if someone wants to take that same piece of work and use it for commercial purposes…and compensate you? Are you stuck? Nope.

"Pennies" by slgckgc

“Pennies” CC Licensed by slgckgc

All CC licenses are non-exclusive, meaning you can license your work to the public (with that CC BY-NC-SA) license but also license the work separately to that person who wants to pay you to use your work for commercial purposes. Only that person (or business entity) you licensed your work to for commercial use will be able to use it in that way.  You can issue different licenses to your work to different folks depending on when/if business opportunities arise.

In short, the people over at Creative Commons are making it easier for you to protect your rights regarding work you’ve created, while supporting a greater system of sharing.  The website has also had a recent update that makes choosing your license oh-so-much easier.  So what are you waiting for?  Oh…now let’s see how easy it is to attach a CC license to your blog or website.

Five Simple Steps to Get a CC License on Your Blog

There are a couple different ways to do this, but this is a simple method that only involves a few clicks and the ability to copy and paste.  You can do that, right? :]

1. Go to

2. Select the options you would like your license to include (allow remixing? allow commercial use? etc)

Creative Commons License Chooser

3.  Add metadata to the license that provides more detail about your work (if you wish to)

Creative Commons Metadata Fields

4.  Copy (click in the box and press Ctrl+C) the HTML code that the CC License Chooser spits out for you

Creative Commons License HTML code

5.  Paste this code into a “text” or “HTML” widget, which you can add to via the control panel of your blog.

Text HTML Widget in WordPress Blog

Once this is done, you’ll have a nice shiny Creative Commons license on display on your website or blog.  This same HTML code that you pasted into the text/HTML widget can be placed in any HTML document or field, but for the purpose of this post, it made sense to show how to do this inside of the WordPress blogging platform.  There are many possibilities, so feel free to explore!

Creative Commons License Displayed in HTML Widget

Pulling It Together!

I’m happy to see so many people (youth/adults/learners/builder/movers/shakers…) using Creative Commons licenses more and more every day.  The idea of open licensing was brought up in my master’s degree program, but the full implications and benefits of licensing your work to share it with the world did not hit me until much later.  I hope some of you find this useful and want to give it a shot.

The future looks bright.  Let’s share :]

12 thoughts on “How to: Get a Creative Commons License for your Blog or Website

  1. Pingback: Figuring out creative commons and intellectual property: Good luck | Jack in the Box

  2. Pingback: Take #2: Understanding CC and IP | Jack in the Box

  3. So I’ve been having trouble with this. When I click the little buttons on my phone on that site, the license changes depending on my selection. (I’m trying to get an Attribution Noncommercial No Derivs.) However, once I’m on my computer, the license stays as Attribution 3.0 Unported. This is really annoying because I had started posting a story to the internet this summer, and now that I’m planning to self-publish it (once it’s revised, of course), I want to protect my work until I’m ready/able to publish. Help!!!

  4. Question – My blog is composed of small article-sized posts plus comments about the posts. Since January I’ve received over 1,100 comments about 8 posts. Would it be necessary to register each post by name separately (i.e. A Dangerous Illusion; You Are More, etc.)? If not how would this apply?

    • Hi Mary- While there is no registration necessary for anything you CC license, you could apply a unique CC license (with the name of the work) on each post if you wished, as opposed to the typical method of placing the CC license in the footer of a blog which would then appear on each page. The latter method would probably not include the name of the work in the license. Hope this is useful.

  5. Hello Billy. I am an 18 year old male, I was doing my first year this year in Information Technology at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa. I started blogging in October this year because I saw it as a platform that would allow me to freely express myself. When I read that one can actually make money from blogging, that was more like a bonus to me. I actually did not know that one can get a licence for their blog until I read your article, thank you so much for this. I am still to purchase a .com domain name to give my blog a more professional approach but I am not going to change the style in which I blog in. Thank you again for your article.

    Please do check out my blog in your spare time at , please also give me a few pointers on what I can do to improve it, that would be very much appreciated.

    Kind regards
    Siyamthanda Nxumalo

  6. Hi Billy, thanks for all the info/exhortation ~

    I’d like to CC a business template so that others can use, remix, and improve it and I still can maintain attribution. I’m confused by the steps to getting the shiny CC[etc] license icon, since when I copyright music I upload the music (charts/mp3s) to show what I’m copyrighting.

    Should I be looking into an alternative method of attribution, since I don’t want to CC the product but the template? Am I understanding CC correctly?

    Thanks! Olivia

    • Hi Olivia- To CC-license a business template, you would simply need to choose the license you wish and copy the license icon and attribution statement onto the document. If the template is web-based (ie a website) there’s the HTML license you can use to signal to search engines and others that the work is CC licensed. Obviously, the first method require someone “seeing” the license, whereas the second option should be both visual and what computers can detect. Hope this is useful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s