CC Open Source Blog

Creative Commons Google Docs Add-on


by Brandon Dorman on 2019-09-11

A few years ago I published a Google Docs Add-on that allowed users to insert a Creative Commons license image and link into their Google doc. Since then it’s been used thousands of times and I’ve gotten some great feedback from teachers about how nice it is to teach their students about digital literacy.

Plugin screenshot 1


I created the add-on after inspiration from students in one of the classes I teach at Fresno Pacific University’s Graduate School of Education. I was teaching a course on digital literacy, and open licenses and fair use was a large portion of the course.

To get started, I used the templates Google provided about building an addon, took a look at the html etc on the Creative Commons License Chooser page itself, and eventually got something working! It took a couple of days off and on and mostly was me remembering javascriptI admit I had to pay a guy on Upwork to help clean up the code before I published it because sometimes the chooser would keep selecting hundreds of license images… of course, this was also before I was a bona fide contributor to the open source project I Product Manage, OpenSALT.

My hope is that folks are able to normalize the idea of putting a Creative Commons license on their public documents, as well as when uploading creative content to Youtube etc. Teachers in particular would be served by publishing a license so that if their work shows up unauthorized on Teachers Pay Teachers without attribution or for commercial purposes, they have a legal avenue to pursue it to be taken down. Even Medium has an option to publish documents with a CC license.

My nine year teaching career in Fresno Unified School District plus my career in Edtech (, ACT) have opened my eyes to the need for a more open Web. Creative Commons licenses allow ‘free’ to not just be free, but able to conform to the five R’s of open content(retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed) and enable greater opportunities for innovation and equity.


This month I’ve finally updated it from the old Google Docs add-on store to the Gsuite Marketplace and updated some links. I’ve also updated the Github site as the main website for the app and hope to implement some changes based on the work in this Github repo with an updated license chooser process etc. The add-on has been installed thousands of times and usually has couple of hundred uses a month based on statistics.

I hope in the future to use an API call to support different languages, and perhaps embed RDF into the Google doc if that is possible to make the license machine-searchable. This is a fun project that is useful and helping teach me more about coding and best practices for open source software.


  1. In Google Docs, select “Get Add-ons”

How-to screenshot 1

  1. Input Creative Commons and press enter

How-to screenshot 2

  1. Install and use!

How-to screenshot 3

Video tutorial

A video tutorial is available here or by clicking on the image below.

Video tutorial