Tips on Creative Commons image attribution

Website artwork

Updated on April 16, 2023

I’ve written before about proper image attribution for Flickr’s Creative Commons photos. However, I thought my post deserved an updated post, and more obviously aimed at all such images in general. Thus, here’s how to properly include credits on Creative Commons images.

Various Creative Commons image attribution types

The Creative Commons wiki recommends image attributions include the following information:

  • Title of the image
  • Author of the image
  • Source of the image, preferably with a link to the original
  • License chosen

The above should include links to the original sources, author, title, and the Creative Commons license used.

Ideal attribution

Below is an example of what a complete attribution should look like:

Wisconsin border sign
Wisconsin Welcomes You” by Michel Curl is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As you can see, the title’s included. There’s also links to the creator, image source, and Creative Commons license.

Simplified attribution

Here’s a simplified, acceptable version of the above attribution.

Photo by Michel Curl / CC BY

This is less ideal than the full attribution, as it fails to list the photo’s title. Still, since there’s links to the image source, creator, and Creative Commons license, it’s a valid and acceptable attribution.

For material modified slightly

In cases where the original image has slight modifications, Creative Commons suggests (for example) the following attribution:

Wisconsin border sign in black and white
Wisconsin Welcomes You” by Michel Curl is licensed under CC BY 2.0. / Black-and-white version of the original image.

Derivative works from Creative Commons media

If the work’s been significantly altered for one’s work, Creative Commons suggests something like the following attribution:

This work, “Aliens invade Wisconsin,” is a derivative of “Wisconsin Welcomes You” by Michel Curl, licensed under CC BY 2.0. “Aliens invade Wisconsin” is licensed under CC BY by John Smith.

This attribution incorporates the original work’s title, author, source, and license. So is mention of the new work’s title and author, plus that the new work’s derivative of a previous work. Depending on the original Creative Commons license (or if the derivative work’s creator opts to do so), there’s also listing the license the new work falls under.

Incorrect attribution

Here’s an incorrect attribution:

Photo: Creative Commons

Items missing include: the title; the creator’s name; links to the original source; and the correct license. “Creative Commons” is an organization, not a creator or a proper license.

License generators

There’s some ways to speed up creating the above attributions. One such way is using one of various license generators online, such as this generator on the Open Washington website. Just enter the proper links and image/creator information, and it creates a proper attribution, plus HTML code to copy and paste into one’s site. Here’s an example, using this post’s featured image:

“Polaroid Film Instant” by Danehrr22 is in the Public Domain, CC0

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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