The Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library

Worldcat Library Catalog Journal Titles

Applying Creative Commons Licenses to Your Work

Licensing an Adaptation/Remix

Licensing an Adaptation/Remix

What is an adaptation?

An adaptation (which may also be known as a derivative work or a remix) is a new work that is based on one or more existing copyrighted works, and that contains sufficient creative components beyond the original to warrant copyright protection for the new components. Adaptations include translations of a work into a new language, the synching of music to a movie, and the creation of a film based on a book.

It is important to note that there are changes you can make to a work that do NOT result in an adaptation, such as making minor spelling and punctuation changes, using excerpts from a work to illustrate a point, and changing format (for example, making a print copy of a digital work). In these cases, you do not need to consider attaching a new license to your modified version of the work.

What kinds of works can I include?

The license compatibility chart below shows which kinds of works can be remixed.

Here's how it works: Let's say you want to use two CC-licensed works in your new work. One is licensed CC BY (attribution required, but no other restrictions apply). Find the CC BY license in the column on the left. The other work you want to use is licensed CC BY NC (attribution required, and work cannot be used for commercial purposes). Find the CC BY NC license in the row at the top. There is a check mark where these two licenses intersect, so you know that you can use these two types of works together. Had there been an "X" at the intersection, you would know the two types of works were not compatible and could not be used together in your remix.

CC license compatibility chart

CC_License_Compatibility_Chart by Creative Commons is licensed CC BY 4.0.

How should I license my adaptation?

The license you choose for an adaptation depends, in part, on the licenses of the works you have adapted. Use the chart below to determine what license can be applied given the licenses of the works you have adapted.

Note that for fields with a neutral face/yellow background (e.g., CC BY on the left and CC0 at the top) Creative Commons suggests that you not use the license, but that if you do, you indicate clearly that content is licensed under different terms so re-users can comply with all relevant license terms.

For fields with a disappointed face/red background, you cannot use the license for your adaptation.

Adapter's license chart

"Adapter's License Chart" by Jill Hallam-Miller is licensed CC BY 4.0. It is adapted from "Adapter's License Chart" by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0. The adapted version changes the order of licenses in rows and columns, and modifies the signifiers in each result cell.

What else do I need to consider?

Consider these points before you select a license:

  • If you use a work with a No Derivatives license, you cannot share the work UNLESS your use does not result in an adaptation
  • If you use a work that contains a Share-Alike license, you must use a compatible license (usually the same license, or the latest version of the same license) UNLESS your use does not result in an adaptation
  • If you use a work that contains a Non-Commercial license, be sure to comply with the license requirements (AND best practice is to apply a non-commercial license to the new work)

Applying a license to your work

Now you can visit the CC Chooser to select a license.

The CC Chooser will create plain text, rich text, and HTML versions of the license information for you to mark your work.

Attributing your sources

Every CC license requires attribution, and it is a best practice to attribute sources in the public domain (whether marked CC0 or not). Provide attribution for every source in your adaptation, and include as much information as you can to make finding and reusing source material easy.

Use the TASL method.

T = Title

A = Author (name or user name, include link to author's profile page if applicable)

S = Source (include a link to/URL for the original work)

L = License (include a link to the license deed)

Also include the title of the new work you created, your name, and the new license with a link to the deed. Include a note about modifications you made to original works. For example, if you include a CC-licensed photo that you have recolored, include a note about this modification in your attribution for the photo.


This page, "Licensing an Adaptation/Remix" by Jill Hallam-Miller is licensed CC BY 4.0, and is an adaptation of the following works:

"Frequently Asked Questions" by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0.

September 2019 Creative Commons Certificate Course by Creative Commons, Unit 4: Reusing CC Licenses and CC-Licensed Works, Section 4.4: Remixing CC-Licensed Work, licensed CC BY 4.0.

"Sharing Your Work with Creative Commons Licenses Part II: Collections and Adaptations" by Jill Hallam-Miller (2020), licensed CC BY 4.0.


Return to Module 2: Licensing Considerations

Return to Module 3 Main Page

Go to Module 4: Creating a CC-Licensed Work