About ELF

ELF helps creators share worlds

About ELF

ELF stands for “ELF License Family” (yes, it is a recursive acronym). The ELF License Family was created to enable communities to create stories and fictional worlds together. The licenses are based on the Creative Commons licenses. Under every license in the ELF License Family, the creator of a work retains copyright, and others are allowed to create and distribute derivative works for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Each license also requires that credit is given to the creator. Additional stipulations are included for each license.

Why ELF?

Creative Commons licenses have become popular for releasing shared creations. All Creative Commons licenses allow anyone to reproduce and distribute the work licensed under them. The goal of ELF is to allow people to riff and remix each other’s creations without necessarily allowing them to reproduce and distribute the original work. The vision behind this goal is twofold.

First, it includes people creating fiction for fun and profit. Since all work released under an ELF license can be remixed, creators can build upon each other’s stories. Popular collections of stories will comprise fictional worlds that can be used for new stories, games, artwork, and more.

Second, it retains the potential of profit for works that are expensive to create but easy to reproduce, such as video games and movies. A community generated fictional world licensed under ELF could be used as the basis for a high production value work. The creator could limit the rights of others to reproduce that work, but others would stil be allowed to create new stories based on the characters and setting. Additionally, no dual licensing scheme or contributor license agreements would be required.


ELF is a work in progress. The current draft licenses are merely copies of Creative Commons licenses that were edited by a non-lawyer with change-tracking enabled. Do not release works under ELF at this time. The draft copies and this web site have been created to encourage a vision and prompt conversation.

The Licenses


Attribution, ShareAlike
The ELF-BY-SA license allows reproduction and distribution of the licensed work, in addition to derivative works. This license is intended to be used by those who want to create something that can be shared by everyone. It is very similar to the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.


Attribution, ShareAlike, NoReproduction
The ELF-BY-SA-NR license does not allow reproduction and distribution of the licensed work. This license is intended to be used by those who prefer to retain the rights to distribute their work, but still allows other to remix it. While the rights to reproduction are restricted, others can still create and distribute derivative works.

More details, including the text of the licenses, can be found at the licenses page.

We are seeking feedback. Please write us at feedback@elflicensefamily.org