What is attribution?
Attribution involves crediting sources that you quote, cite, or otherwise use in some significant way. Attribution allows a reader or viewer to go the original source of information to get additional context and details.
Attribution vs. copyright infringment
Proper attribution is not a protection against charges of copyright infringement and is not a part of copyright law. Attribution may come up in cases of plagiarism, but copyright infringement is infringement with or without attribution.
Guidelines for giving attribution
When giving attribution, your should provide enough information that the reader can find the work being cited. Attribution should include the original creator’s name or username, the title of the work, the date it was created, and the type of license under which the work was licensed. When attributing a work online, you can also include a link (URL) to the work, if available.
The attribution doesn’t need to follow academic style guides for citations. Just include it naturally in the flow of text in most instances. Follow the creator’s guidelines for how they want their work attributed, if they are provided.
Example of attribution of a work copyrighted as "all rights reserved":
“An Excellent Photo,” © All Rights Reserved 2011 by Jane Doe, used with permission.
Example of attribution of a work copyrighted under a Creative Commons license:
“An Excellent Photo,” © 2011 by Jane Doe, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
Requiring or requesting attribution
When you copyright your works under a traditional “All Rights Reserved” license, people must contact you and secure your permission to legally use your work. You can grant permission for use of your work under conditions such as requiring attribution.
Creative Commons licenses provide the conditions for use of a work up front, so people who want to use your work do not have to contact you. They can legally use your work as long as they follow the conditions you set in your Creative Commons license. Among the conditions you can set in a CC license is attribution.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.