CTTO“. We’ve seen this acronym one too many times on the internet, especially on social media. It means “Credit to the Owner”. CTTO is [presumably] a quick-and-easy way to provide attribution to the owner of the work — whoever s/he may be. But is this really the right way to properly attribute someone else’s work?

CTTO == Laziness

Bluntly speaking, using CTTO is lazy. It’s lazy, lacks etiquette, and outright disrespectful of other people’s work. This is regardless of whether that “work” is a photo, video, writing, or any other creative output by another person.

Proper Attribution is Key!

Even a little appreciation goes a long way. Being appreciative and giving proper attribution is a simple yet significant way of showing courtesy online. Doing so gives recognition to the efforts made by the author or artist who made the painting or prose possible.

Ensure that you have permission first!

“All Rights Reserved”. This is a phrase that is not to be taken lightly. This means that the work has been copyrighted by the owner. You may not just use the work right away, because at the very least, you’ll need permission to do so. We say “at the very least” because most of the time these copyrighted works involve payment and other requirements just to be able to use the work.

If you’ve watched the Philippine indie film “That Thing Called Tadhana“, it used Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” as a soundtrack. The film wasn’t a high-budget movie, and so the people involved had to pay a hefty fee just to get a license to use the music!

This is why there’s that note by Google when you search for images. “Images may be subject to copyright” does not mean you may just save the image and use it as you wish! (But of course I can use this photo. I took that shot. 😉 )

The same thing goes for other copyrighted work. You may not just use it on a whim unless for example you paid for it to get rights to use it. This is the case unless the owner has granted you permission to do so without payments.

So, having gotten permission, how then do we provide proper attribution?

“TASL” it!

Remember this acronym: TASL. It means:

  1. Title – name of the work.
  2. Author – who was the creator of the work?
  3. Source – from where was the work posted? This usually comes in the form of the URL of the work.
  4. License – what kind of license does the work fall under?

TASL is a handy guide in attributing works, especially those that have been licensed under a “Creative Commons” license. It’s not copyright, and it’s a looser form of a license that allows you to use works based on certain conditions.

It’s always better to show an example so I think I’ll post a lovely picture of Manila Bay here:

North up Roxas Blvd. Formerly Called Dewey Blvd, Manila, Philippines 1960s or 1970s
North up Roxas Blvd. Formerly Called Dewey Blvd, Manila, Philippines 1960s or 1970s“, by John Tewell, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The proper attribution was via the photo caption in my photo attachment above. Specifically:

  1. Title: North up Roxas Blvd. Formerly Called Dewey Blvd, Manila, Philippines 1960s or 1970s
  2. Author: John Tewell
  3. Source: The URLs for each of the respective labels
  4. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (with corresponding link to the license as well)

It’s easy, right? Is it too much? Again, don’t be lazy and attribute properly.


It is always kind to appreciate the work of others. Let’s be courteous with others’ work and attribute them properly (as well as respecting the license they have given their work).

Remember the acronym TASL so you can use it to attribute. Remember, if you are not granted permission, don’t force it nor steal it. If you can come up with original content, the better! But if not, there’s always that Share button so you can spread the word around as a simple way of saying thank you!

So, thank you! Feel free to like and share this article to others! 🙂

References and further reading:

  1. https://creativecommons.org/faq
  2. https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Best_practices_for_attribution#This_is_an_ideal_attribution
  3. https://www.ipophil.gov.ph/intellectual-property-code-implementing-rules-and-regulations