Open Content License Generator: A WordPress Plugin for selecting and displaying an Open Content compatible license for posts

Over at the Open Siddur Project, I was looking for a way that users sharing their work could automatically select between any of the three free/libre compatible licenses offered by the Creative Commons. Well known among free-culture activists, not all Creative Commons licenses are “free” according to the Free Software Foundation’s definition of free.1 Our project only offers users a choice of the three licenses which are compatible with one another and are agreeable with the FSF definition, namely, the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY), the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA), and the Creative Commons Zero, a Public Domain dedication (CC0). I’ve also added an exception for making a Fair Use declaration, in case the work being posted is under the copyright of someone else.

Our site,, currently uses WordPress as our Content Management System.2 WordPress has something like a bazillion third-party plugins, which is nice enough but often hard to locate. I went about seeking out a plugin that might suffice. Having the freedom to tweak or improve software is one reason I’ve enjoyed working with WordPress in the past. In this post, I want to share what improvements I made to the plugin I chose. It might save you the trouble of having to wade through WordPress’s unwieldly plugin directory.

There are a handful of plugins designed so that wordpress authors and administrators can apply one or any number of Creative Commons licenses to site posts. After testing George Notaras’ Creative Commons Configurator, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine & Brett Mellor’s License (a component of the MIT Educational Collaboration Space project), and the OpenAttribute plugin, I ultimately settled on OptimalDevs’ Creative Commons Generator plugin.

OptimalDevs plugin wasn’t immediately perfect for my needs, but it was close enough (compared with the other plugins) and with some extra tweaking, I’ve set it to work at and here at the Omphalos. You can see an example of my implementation below. If you like it, you can try it for yourself. Right now, I don’t have it uploaded to — but you can grab the “Open Content License Generator” plugin from my github account.

My main issues with OptimalDevs’ plugin were the following:

  • it didn’t yet include an option for choosing the Creative Commons Zero, a Public Domain dedication.
  • it offered the Non-Commercial and No Derivative options — Creative Commons licensing options which conflict with the FSF definition of free.
  • it lacked a user editing option for the language displayed in applying the license.
  • it lacked a user choice option for the images displayed in applying the license.
  • the design of the “official” Creative Commons licenses are less clear than the straightforward license iconography

All my editing was limited to the ccg-admin.php file and the addition of an images directory with the images above. In the future, I may add options for other Open Content compatible licenses besides the ones authored and maintained by the Creative Commons.

If you look at the code you’ll notice the displayed text and images are tightly integrated with the code. In my mind, the content and code should be kept separate, so I hope OptimalDevs might take a look at what I’ve done and consider some improvements.

I want to publicly thank Andy Hernandez Salazar (OptimalDevs) for releasing his plugin and for helping a stranger with his open source software.


  1. By free, we here refer to free as in libre: freedom to adopt, adapt and redistribute, and not free as in gratis.
  2. We’ll likely migrate to our own homegrown web application once it is finally built. In the meantime it’s WordPress.

About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes. He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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