Anatomy of Creative Commons


Three layers of Creative Commons

Legal Code

Each license begins as a traditional legal tool, in the kind of language and text formats that most lawyers know and love.  This is called the Legal Code layer of each license.

Human Readable Deed

Since most content creators are not lawyers, we also make the licenses available in a format that normal people can read – the Commons Deed (also known as the “human readable” version of the license). The Commons Deed is a handy reference for licensors and licensees, summarizing and expressing some of the most important terms and conditions.  The Commons Deed itself is not a license, but rather a user-friendly interface for communicating a particular license.

Machine Readable Metadata

The final layer of the license design recognizes that software, from search engines to office productivity to music editing, plays an enormous role in the creation, copying, discover, and distribution of works.  In order to make it easy for the Web to know when a work is available under a Creative Commons license, we provide a “machine readable” version of the license – a summary of the key freedoms and obligations written into a format that software system, search engines, and other kinds of technology can understand.

Four Elements of Creative Commons


Six Types of Creative Commons Licenses



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