Following are the six Creative Commons licenses that you can use to protect your creative works, ranging from least restrictive to most restrictive. Each one ensures that you are recognized as the owner of your work and describes how other people can use it in plain, easy-to-understand language.
1. Attribution (CC BY)
As the least restrictive of all Creative Commons licenses, the Attribution license lets other parties distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. If you want to encourage maximum dissemination and use of your content, this is probably the best license for you.
2. Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Similar to the basic Attribution license, this one lets other people remix, tweak, and build upon your work--even for commercial purposes. Under this license, however, they must not only credit you but also license their new creations to others under the identical terms, so that all new works based on yours will carry the same license. The Attribution-ShareAlike license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open-source software licenses; it's also the one Wikipedia uses.
3. Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)
Under this license, users of your work may redistribute it commercially or noncommercially so long as they pass it along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you. No derivative works are allowed, in other words.
4. Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
This license permits other parties to remix, tweak, and build upon your work noncommercially. While their new works must both acknowledge you and be noncommercial, they don’t have to be licensed under the same terms.
5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
Much like the Attribution-NonCommerical license, this version adds the requirement that those who remix, tweak, or build upon your work noncommercially must not only credit you but also license their new creations under the identical terms.
6. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
Last but not least, the most restrictive among the Creative Commons licenses allows other parties to download your works and share them while crediting you; they can’t, however, change your works in any way or use them commercially.
How Do You Apply a Creative Commons License?
Before you even settle on a Creative Commons license, you need to make sure that the work you want to protect is copyrightable, and that you have the authority to place a license on it. The Creative Commons website outlines other factors that you should understand before proceeding.