Most books I've seen released under a Creative Commons license also have the copyright symbol (e.g., "© 2016 by me") plus, sometimes, "some/all rights reserved" listed on the copyright page.

Is it necessary to say copyright on the "copyright" page when using a Creative Commons (CC) license?

2 Answers 2


Is it necessary to say copyright on the "copyright" page when using a Creative Commons (CC) license?

It's not "necessary" but it is a good idea. This communicates the information that there is a copyright holder for the work and the copyright holder is licensing the copyright under the terms of the CC license. Using the CC license does not negate the existence of a copyright on the work; in fact, it is only by virtue of having a copyright on a work in the first place that you can license it to others under the CC license if you so wish.

In most jurisdictions (Berne convention), copyright is "automatic" and it is not required to claim a copyright in any particular form. However, people who might otherwise use your work as permitted by the CC license may be put off if your legalese is missing or unconventional.

  • So, it's "a good idea" for protecting the CC license, because copyright is usually presumed ("copyright is 'automatic'") if it is not explicitly mentioned? Could a "presumed" copyright ever override the CC license?
    – Geremia
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 23:00
  • 1
    You're missing the difference between a copyright and a license. You only have the authority to license to others that which you have a copyright on. This is what prevents you, for example, from licensing Windows 10 to others under CC. When you create a work, you automatically own the copyright. That allows you to license the work under CC. If anyone doubts you owned the copyright at the time you licensed it under CC, they might not want to use your work due to the uncertain legal status. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 23:10
  • 1
    So it is best to include all the pertinent facts: you are the author, you have a copyright, and you are licensing the work under CC. Also, it pays to check that all these are accurate: did you cut-and-paste anything into your project or did others do work on it (uncertain authorship)? were you under contract to produce the work as a work-for-hire (uncertain copyright)? That's what people want to know from a copyright statement, that you've thought about all these issues and the legal status is clear. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 23:10
  • @geremia Copyright and licensing are orthogonal. You own the copyright unless you have signed it away. You then choose to license people to use it. So there's no question of one overriding the other. Stating who owns the copyright is useful for (a) reminding people of this, (b) on case there are some jurisdictions where you do have to claim, and (c) to tell somebody who to contact if they want to license a use not covered by whichever CC license you have selected.
    – Flyto
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 7:48
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    @Geremia You'd have to ask on the Law SE for real citations. Most likely in such a situation copyright law would be the least of your problems - in most jurisdictions, you'd be prosecutable for fraud if you licensed intellectual property that you don't actually own. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 20:11

The CC BY 4.0 legal-code, for example, mentions copyright in several places, such as:

Our licenses grant only permissions under copyright and certain other rights that a licensor has authority to grant.


Section 3 – License Conditions.

Your exercise of the Licensed Rights* is expressly made subject to the following conditions.

  1. Attribution.

    1. If You Share the Licensed Material (including in modified form), You must:

      1. retain the following if it is supplied by the Licensor with the Licensed Material:
        1. identification of the creator(s) of the Licensed Material and any others designated to receive attribution, in any reasonable manner requested by the Licensor (including by pseudonym if designated);
        2. a copyright notice;
        3. a notice that refers to this Public License;
        4. a notice that refers to the disclaimer of warranties;
        5. a URI or hyperlink to the Licensed Material to the extent reasonably practicable;
      2. indicate if You modified the Licensed Material and retain an indication of any previous modifications; and
      3. indicate the Licensed Material is licensed under this Public License, and include the text of, or the URI or hyperlink to, this Public License.

*Licensed Rights means the rights granted to You subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License, which are limited to all Copyright and Similar Rights that apply to Your use of the Licensed Material and that the Licensor has authority to license.

Thus, CC licenses themselves require an explicit copyright notice.

  • 4
    Actually, what that sentence says is "If you use someone else's CC material and if they included a copyright notice, then you can't remove it". Nothing prevents you from releasing your own CC work without the © symbol. Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 8:27

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