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When looking at a particular CC-licensed document or work, you may find that it refers to ported or unported licences. This refers to the underlying legal code.

The verb ‘port’ applies to the adaptation of data to suit a particular technological or policy jurisdiction/territory/environment.

Unported licences are licences that are not associated with any specific jurisdiction (e.g. country). They do not mention any particular jurisdiction’s law.

The unported versions are written according to international copyright treaties and are, therefore, in theory, compatible under all copyright legislation in various countries. Due to subtle differences in both legal systems and how various countries interpret the various international treaties on copyright, the unported version may include or exclude clauses that are either not legally binding, or are legally meaningless, in any specific jurisdiction – and thus, some aspects of the licence may not align perfectly to a particular jurisdiction's laws.

Creative Commons partners with lawyers around the world to localize or port its licences to different copyright legislations around the world.

The porting process involves both linguistically translating the licences and legally adapting them to particular jurisdictions. These licences are designed to have the same effect anywhere in the world, while at the same time following the legal conventions of particular jurisdictions, so that they can be more easily understood and used by the local community. Thus, usage of these jurisdiction-specific licences has started replacing unported licences in some instances.

In deciding whether to use a ported or unported licence, consider your primary audience. Are they located within one country?

Regardless of whether you select a ported or unported licence, all of the Creative Commons licences are public licences, which means anyone worldwide may use the work as long as they follow the conditions of the licence. The legal code differs, but the only difference in the human-readable version of the licence is the presence of the country name and flag – e.g. compare unported and ported.

However, since we first wrote this toolkit Creative Commons has moved on to CC4.0.  The new licences are more user-friendly and more internationally robust than ever before and are ready to use around the world, without porting. More detail on this topic is available on the Creative Commons website.