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How to attribute images licensed under Creative Commons

It’s awesome to see that people are becoming more aware of Creative Commons but I notice that there are a lot of people out there that miss some of the key things about providing appropriate attribution, so let’s demystify that.

Here’s are the key things you should provide in an attribution:
Title of the work
Creator of the work
URL to the work
Type of Creative Commons licence attached to the work
Any other relevant copyright info applicable (such as if the work has been modified)

Here are a couple of examples as to how we can attribute the image below.

Sunflowers at Sunset (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/3428453770) by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)If you’re using this image online or in a digital document, you have some freedom in how you attribute because of the ability to link people out to things:
Sunflowers at Sunset by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Sunflowers at Sunset by Trey Ratcliff 

If you’re going to use the image somewhere where it’s awkward to place a citation on the page somewhere, you might want to consider including the attribution in a roll over script so that when someone puts the mouse cursor over the image, the citation pops up.

If you’re going to use the image for something that’s intended for print such as a brochure or a poster, then you’ll need to make your attribution longer because the hyperlinks will be ineffective and you need to direct people to where they kind find the work for themselves.

Sunflowers at Sunset (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/3428453770) by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

That attribution is fairly long, but we can shorten it using the Flickr URL shortner so that it becomes:

Sunflowers at Sunset (http://flic.kr/p/6dXHRU) by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The attribution doesn’t need to be in a huge font, it just has to be readable and appear on or near the work. “On” doesn’t mean you have to obscure the work.  If you need to have an attribution on the work, keep the attribution small but readable, place it close to an edge and consider reducing the opacity so that the attribution is there and readable but subtle and doesn’t detract from the work.  Also, “near” doesn’t have to be right underneath or beside the work. For example, I could have provided an attribution at the bottom of this blog page, or if I was using the image in a presentation or a video, I could include the attribution in the last slide or the end credits and that would still suffice as “near”.

So now you know what you need to include in an attribution and how to do it, I hope to see it more often 🙂

Oh! and it just occurred to me – if you’re sitting there scratching your head wondering how you even go about finding a work that’s licensed under Creative Commons or you’re not sure where to find the title, author’s name and licensing information, then stay tuned!  I’ll cover these in my next posts! 🙂



  1. Pingback: Finding images licensed under Creative Commons | Copyright stuffs - February 5, 2015

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