The internet has made it easy to locate and access images, artwork, music and other media content created by others.  However you cannot just use any content in your assignments, presentations or other work.  One option when searching for images, artwork, music and other media is to search for content that has been licensed (by the creator) to be shared, re-mixed and re-used, that is Creative Commons content.

Creative Commons (CC) is an international, non-profit organisation aimed at helping everyone share content with each other.  They provide free licences and tools to content creators (authors, artists, musicians) that enable others to reuse, remix and share their work legally. Creative Commons makes it easy for you to use images, music, artwork and other content appropriately and attribute correctly.

Watch the video below (view transcript).

Creative Commons Licenses

The Creative Commons licence tells you the level of permission granted by the content creator.   You will see these CC licenses on websites and in your online search results. Authors often include these symbols on their sites to let you know how the content can be used and to give you permission to use it.

Each Creative Commons licence comes with the same baseline rights. They are:

non commercial
no derivative
share alike
Attribution: BY Noncommercial: NC No Derivative Works: ND Share Alike: SA
This applies to every Creative Commons work. Whenever a work is copied or redistributed under a Creative Commons licence, the original creator (and any other nominated parties) must be credited and the source linked to. Lets others copy, distribute, display and perform the work for noncommercial purposes only. Lets others distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work. They may not adapt or change the work in any way. Allows others to remix, adapt and build on the work, but only if they distribute the derivative works under the same the licence terms that govern.

These four rights combine to create six CC licenses.  All licenses require that the content creator always be given credit (BY). The six licenses are:

Licence allows you to...
1 CC-BY use the material, with attribution and credit of the creator.
2 CC BY-SA use the material, with attribution. The material can be remixed and modified, but the result must also have this license so it can continue to be shared.
3 CC BY-ND use the material with attribution, but only in the original, complete form (no derivatives.)
4 CC BY-NC use with attribution.  The work can be modified and reused, but not for commercial purposes.
5 CC BY-NC-SA use the material with attribution. Derivatives are allowed, but not for commercial purposes.  The resulting work must retain this same license.
6 CC BY-NC-ND use the material with attribution. No commercial use or derivatives of the work are permitted.

Finding Creative Commons materials

When you need to find images, artwork, music or other content to use in your written assignments and presentations you can either:

      1. Search the growing collection of Creative Commons content: try the following search tools, or see a whole range of tools at 30+ places to find Creative Commons media.

    Search Tool Description
    CC search A collection of tools for images, music, video and other media
    Flickr (Creative Commons) Photographs
    Jamendo (Advanced search) Music


      1. Use a search engine, such as Google and filter for CC usage rights. Go to the bottom of the Advanced Search of your Google search results. From the “Usage Rights” field choose the option that suits your intended purpose.

      google usage rights

Using Creative Commons materials

For information on how to attribute Creative Commons materials in your written assignments and presentations, go to QUT cite|write.

Further information on Creative Commons

Creative Commons. (2011). Baseline rights- CC Wiki. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from

Creative Commons Australia. (2011). About the licences. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from Australian Copyright Council. (2005). Fair dealing. Retrieved February 17, 2006, from

Venable, M. (2011). A Creative Commons guide for online students. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from