A Creative Commons licence is a specific type of copyright licence that allows creators to provide others with permission to legally use, share, and modify their creative work in a standardised and straightforward way.  By sharing their creativity through a Creative Commons licence, creators are empowering people from all over the world to use, learn from, and be inspired by their work. 


To use and adapt images, graphs, maps, photographs, sketches, audio and more without requesting direct written permission from the copyright owner, follow these steps: 

  1. Find images: You can use openverse search to find images and filter the results using licence types such as CC BY or CC BY SA licences which allow for adaption as well as use.  Alternatively, you can try Google image search and filter results by clicking on the Tools button and selecting Usage Rights, then ticking Creative Commons licences. 
  2. Find published works: Look for the Creative Commons CC symbol on the article, conference paper, book, or other work. Click on the CC licence link to check any limitations on the licence. 
  3. Adapt the work: Once you have found the suitable work, make sure to cite the creator and provide a link to the work and licence and give proper attribution to the original creator.

A screenshot showing a Google images search with creative commons licences selected from the drop down menu.

See this example of how to attribute an image licensed under Creative Commons.

Hubble Sees the Force Awakening in a Newborn Star” by NASA/ESA is licensed under CC BY-2.0.

Teaching materials 

Use, copy, share and adapt large portions of published works without having to request direct, written permission from the copyright owner. Attribute and provide a link to the work and licence and indicate if changes were made. 

Research outputs 

When you publish open access articles, conference papers, books, or openly share research data, it is important to assign a  Creative Commons (CC) licence. There are several options available, but Griffith University recommends using the The CC BY licence as it allows for the most open dissemination of your work. 

Under the CC BY licence, others are permitted to copy, alter, distribute, and publish all or part of your article, including for commercial purposes, as long as they provide appropriate credit, link to the licence, and indicate if any changes were made.  This helps ensure that your research reaches a wider audience and has the potential to be built upon by others. 

How do you apply a CC licence to your work? 

Add a sentence like the one below with a link to the licence and a copyright note.  

© 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.  

Or you may select from a publisher’s list of CC licences when you submit your work for publication.  

For more copyright advice consult Griffith University’s Copyright matters and  Information Policy Officer. 

Want to learn more? Watch Wanna Work Together? from Creative Commons on Vimeo.