When you put a creative work out for public use, you run the risk of losing your ability to protect that work. In some cases, you could lose all of your abilities to protect your work and keep others from using it, even though you only intended it to be freely used in certain situations. Fortunately, a creative commons license allows you to maintain copyright protections while also allowing certain segments of the public to use your work within set parameters.

Creative commons licenses provide a great deal of flexibility. The various forms all depend on the kinds of rights that you want to retain or how you want people to use the work. The four basic types are: attribution rights, share-alike rights, non-commercial rights, and no derivative works.

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Attribution Rights

An attribution rights creative commons license allows you to let people copy, display, distribute, and perform your work. They can also create derivative works, but you still must be given appropriate attribution. In some cases, you can modify this to be either more or less restrictive.

Share-Alike Rights

A share-alike creative commons license allows further users to give licenses for others to distribute derivative works, but proper attribution must be given. Most of the time, the same license that's otherwise held over the creative work will apply to the derivative works. It's commonly used in attempts to control paid fan fiction.

Non-Commercial Rights

A non-commercial creative commons license allows everything that an attributions rights creative commons license grants with the one requirement that it only be done for non commercial activities. Non commercial varies somewhat, and non profits may get an exemption in limited situations. Most of the time, non-commercial just means that subsequent users can't make a profit from the work. But in some cases, they can potentially charge enough to cover the costs of production.

No Derivative Works

A no derivative works creative commons license allows everything that an attribution rights creative commons license allows except that derivative works, like fan fiction, can't be produced.

All of these four creative commons licenses can be combined in various forms to create different requirements and provide the protection that you want and need.

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