Creative Commons licenses are several copyright licenses released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001. The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project.

Comparison chart

Creative Commons License versus GPL comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartCreative Commons LicenseGPL
  • current rating is 3.51/5
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(51 ratings)
  • current rating is 4.03/5
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(59 ratings)
Release Date of the original version 16 December, 2002 January 1989
Released by Creative Commons, a US non-profit corporation Free Software Foundation's GNU Project
Guiding Philosophy Trying to draw a balance between the two extremes of copyrighted work and work in the public domain To grant users the right to copy, modify, and redistribute the software which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law
Conditions for licensing Gives the authors of the creative work, a selection of four conditions and their combinations, under which they license their work Conditions of licensing are standard and cannot be changed
Type of license Some of the licenses are Permissive free software licenses Copyleft license - require copies and derivatives of the source code to be made available on terms no more restrictive than those of the original licence
Use Creative Commons licenses are for all kinds of creative works: websites, scholarship, music, film, photography, literature, courseware, etc. Primarily designed for software. One popular example of a GPL-licensed work is WordPress.
What is it? Creative Commons Licenses are a set of copyright licenses that give the recipients, rights to copy, modify and redistribute the creative material, but giving the authors, the liberty to decide the conditions of licensing It is the most widely used free software license which grants the recipients, rights to copy, modify and redistribute the software and to ensure that the same rights were preserved in all derivative works
Compatible with GPL No Yes
Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) Approval No Yes
Open Source Initiative (OSI) Approval No Yes
Free Software Foundation (FSF) Approval Some licenses - Yes, others - No Yes

Conditions of Licensing

While the conditions of the GNU GPL are unchangeable, the details of each of the Creative Commons licenses depends on the version, and comprises a selection of four conditions:

Attribution (by)

Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.

Non-commercial or NonCommercial (nc)

Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.

No Derivative Works or NoDerivs (nd)

Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.

ShareAlike (sa)

Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.


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