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Citations and attributions are both means of giving credit to the creator of a work. However citations are generally a scholarly practice on referencing your sources of information, while attributions are typically a statutory or contractual requirement – for example, under the terms of a copyright licence such as a Creative Commons licence. Of course the author may also elect to waive his right to be attributed if he so decides.

It is also a moral right for the author of a work to not be falsely attributed as to the authorship of that work. Do note that attribution alone is not a valid defence to copyright infringement.

A typical attribution has 5 key elements: Title, author, source, licence, notes.

Take the example of a suggested Creative Commons attribution:

Calculus – The foundation of modern science by Eugene Khutoryansky licenced under CC BY on YouTube.

  • Title: Calculus – The foundation of modern science.
    Link back to the original work.
  • Author: by Eugene Khutoryansky
    Link back to the author’s website if possible.
  • Licence: licenced under CC BY
    Link back to the appropriate CC licence.
  • Source: on YouTube
    Optional, link back if the source is different from the title’s link.