I have a somewhat general question about copyright licenses but that can be more easily understood with an example.

Imagine that I wished to apply a Creative Commons license (CC) to work that I publish in a website. From my research the only thing that is need is to state somewhere in the website that a specific CC license applies to it. Is there anything actually binding in a Creative Commons license (or others like Mozilla Public License or Free Art License, etc)? Would it be equally binding if I for example had a page in the website with my own set of rules regarding my work?

The question is if known copyright licenses are equally binding as some particular rules stated by the creator of some intellectual property?

Thank you for any answer.

1 Answer 1


In principle, every single copyright license allows someone to do something that plain copyright law wouldn't allow them to do. Very often there are conditions: They are allowed to do X, which plain copyright law wouldn't allow them to do, but only if they fulfil some condition Y. The consequence is that if they do X without fulfilling the condition Y, then they are committing copyright infringement.

Details are different from country to country. In the USA, you cannot force someone to do what the license asks the, to do, but if they don't, it's copyright infringement, and you can sue them and ask for damages.

Other countries see it as a contract, where by doing X they agree to do Y as well, and not doing it would be breach of contract. Often with the interesting effect that you as the copyright holder cannot prove that they accepted the license, so in court they can tell the judge whether they were committing copyright infringement or whether they are in breach of contract.

You can of course use your own license - however, one of the standard licenses mean the license was likely checked by a better lawyer than you would want to pay, and is much more likely to achieve what you want to achieve. If there were any problems say with the Creative Commons license, people would have found those problems and fixed them a long time ago.

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    Regarding your last paragraph, the concept of a "crayon license" is pretty much describing such DYI licenses and the problems they may cause both for the licensor as well as for the current and potential licensees. Commented May 10, 2022 at 11:13
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    +1 for the clear explanation of the "mechanism" in the first paragraph. Commented May 10, 2022 at 12:24
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    A more in-depth description of the risks mentioned in the last paragraph can be found in this question: How can a "crayon" license be a problem?
    – IMSoP
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 12:43

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