Yesterday the Mozilla Drumbeat organization launched a new tool to help content users reference openly licensed Creative Commons content.  Referencing openly licensed content has been slightly ambigious in the past with many people adopting their own methods. The OpenAttribute project aims to make referencing of openly licensed content as simple as possible, highly accessible within the browser, and super useful!

Whenever I use Creative Commons content I always try to include a link back to the webpage where I found the content as well as a link to the Creative Commons license deed online. I have used various open licensing referencing tools in the past, including the Xpert Project Attribution tool which actually embeds the license text and urls into the image – this has been useful for putting images into Powerpoint or some other offline program.  I have also used and blogged about Imagecodr which gives an HTML version of the license with links to the content and the license deed – this has been useful for putting openly licensed content on my blog and other websites.  These tools have been great in helping me get the proper references, but they required that I go visit another site to get the job done.

Using Open Attribute

What I love about the Open Attribute project is that is a web browser plugin.  So I do not need to navigate elsewhere to extract the code I need to attribute a Creative Commons work.  Once you have installed the plug in (on Firefox, Safari or Chrome) the plugin will automatically sense when you are on a Creative Commons licensed webpage.


In the image above I am viewing a picture from the World Economic Forum.  The picture is licensed under Creative Commons, so on the right hand site of the URL bar a little CC icon appears.


When you click on the CC icon a drop down box appears.


From here you can ‘Copy Attribution’ as plain text (for documents) and as HTML (for webpages).  You can also click on more information to get a more detailed view of the license panel.

For this particular image the exported references look like this:

Plain text reference:
Opening Plenary – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 /     World Economic Forum (http://www.flickr.com/people/worldeconomicforum/relationship/) / CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

HTML reference:
<span about=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/3613744771/in/set-72157617685533519/” xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/” xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#”><span property=”dct:title”>Opening Plenary – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009</span> / <a rel=”cc:attributionURL” property=”cc:attributionName” href=”http://www.flickr.com/people/worldeconomicforum/relationship/”>    World Economic Forum</a> / <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA 2.0</a></span>

This HTML will show up as displayed below if embedded in a webpage: 

Opening Plenary – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 / World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA 2.0


The Open Attribute tool makes it really simple to extract references from webpages licensed with Creative Commons content.  Great work on the part of the Mozilla Drumbeat team!  This is a real contribution to the Creative Commons movement! There is a lovely summary of the origins of the project on Molly Kleinman’s blog.

Introducing the Open Attribute Referencing Tool

CC BY 4.0 Introducing the Open Attribute Referencing Tool by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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