Creative commons materials are popular on the web, and people are using these materials for creating new websites, as there is no severe copyright restriction.

How does creative commons copyright allow reprint in books? For example, does it allow reprinting an entire article of Wikipedia in a book? How much is creative commons similar to public domain when reprinting the material in a book?

3 Answers 3


That's a tricky question because the Creative Commons license allows a high degree of freedom. That means, there are lots of Creative Commons license flavors and you can check them better in their very page.

Basically, when you choose the Creative Commons license, you choose also -- among other things -- if you:

  • Allow or not people changing your work
  • Allow or not people selling and charging for your work

So, every work need to have its specific CC license checked because one CC may allow you to distribute and sell the book, other may allow you to change and sell the book, other may allow you only to read and share the book.


The set of licences that are creative commons allow for copying and distribution of the works, as long as some restrictions are met. These restrictions are represented by two-letter abbreviations, that are added to CC, for example CC-BY-SA (the license Wikipedia uses).

The meaning of the abbreviations are:

  • BY: Attribution - Credit the creator(s)
  • NC: Non commercial - it isn't permitted to use the work commercially
  • ND: Non derivate - it isn't permitted to change the work
  • SA: Share alike - it is permitted to change the work as long as the derivate is distributed under the same license

Read more about it on their website.

So, the CC-BY-SA of Wikipedia means you can print a book of articles, as long as you credit the authors and distribute the contents of the books under the same license CC-BY-SA. As some books containing content of the Wikipedia already do.

The NC-clause would disallow you to ask for money for distribution the book (luckily not the case for Wikipedia). The ND-clause would disallow to change the content, obviously not the right choice for Wikipedia, as an article wouldn't be allowed to be changed from someone different than the original author.

Every CC-license allows to copy, if it is non-commercial, unchanged and credits the author.

  • A nitpicking difference, perhaps, but one which writers should understand: Not all abbreviations are acronyms. Unless you're treating them as words ("kick by sah"?), they're not acronyms.
    – user23037
    Jan 17, 2017 at 12:18
  • @gmcgath: Sorry, not a native english speaker. Thanks for the explanation, I can only learn. :-)
    – Mnementh
    Jan 18, 2017 at 8:00
  • A lot of English speakers get that wrong too. No need to apologize.
    – user23037
    Jan 19, 2017 at 0:38

Wikipedia articles are available under the CC BY-SA license. If you reproduce the entire article within a larger work, you must credit the authors (which is typically done with a link to the article's "view history" page; see the Wikipedia terms of use for more info. This is the "BY" (or "attribution") component of the requirement.

If you're quoting an entire article within a larger work, you're not creating a "derivative work," so the "SA" (or "share alike") requirement does not apply. You can keep your book, overall, under full copyright, or apply any license you like.

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