Creative Commons Licenses

What is Creative Commons Licensing?

Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow creators to share rather than reserve all rights as would happen under copyright, rights like attribution, derivative works, commercial use, and share alike. This puts creative works back into the commons, where further creativity can prosper.

The CC licenses associated with Open Educational Resources (OER) allow you adapt the material to suit your needs. You can then provide the material back to the commons either in the public domain or  licensed under one of these Creative Commons licenses:


Licenses with ND, NoDerivatives, are not compatible with OER because this license element does not allow adaptations or remixes.

How do Creative Commons licenses relate to copyright, open access, library resources, and Open Educational Resources?

Traditional academic publishing uses copyright, with all rights reserved. Creative Commons licenses do not restrict rights that are an exception or limitation to copyright. For example, Creative Commons licensing conditions would not be activated if the use of the materials would be allowed under fair use. Fair use allows content to be used in certain ways and circumstances without the permission of the creator. However, fair use does not necessarily allow for reuse and adaptations as Creative Commons licenses do.

Open access means resources that are free and online, with the right to use them. These resources could be items in the public domain or even peer reviewed articles available through an open license.

Library resources could be copyright, open access, or even OER. The important thing is that they are free to library users.

Open Educational Resources can link to open access resources or library resources, but could also incorporate resources that are licensed under appropriate Creative Commons licenses. Most importantly, open educational resources may be adapted. Any material licensed under Creative Commons without a NoDerivatives element could be considered an open educational resource.

License Elements

Creative Commons licenses are constructed from four elements:

BY  Attribution or “BY”: indicates acknowledgement of the creator of the material

  NonCommercial or “NC”: indicates that the work can only be used for noncommercial purposes.

  ShareAlike or “SA”: indicates that adaptations of the work must be licensed under the identical license.

  NoDerivatives or “ND”: indicates that people who reuse the work cannot share adaptations of the work.

Public Domain

Types of Creative Commons Licenses

image  CC-BY is an attibution license that allows others to distribute, change, and build upon your work as long as you are credited for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered and allows commercial use. Use this license if you want to maximize dissemination and use of your materials.

image  CC BY-SA is an Attribution ShareAlike license that allows others to change and build upon your work, as long as as long as you are credited for the original creation and the new creation is licensed under the identical terms.This license allows commercial use, so any off-shoots will also allow commercial use.
image  CC BY-ND is an Attribution-No Derivatives license that allows for redistribution, both commercial and non-commercial, as long as the whole work is used unchanged, with credit to you.

image  CC BY-NC  is an Attribution NonCommercial license that allows others distribute, change, and build upon your work non-commercially. The resulting new works must credit you and be non-commercial, but the derivative works do not need to be licensed using the same terms.

image  CC BY-NC-SA is a Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license. This license allows others to distribute, change, and build upon your work as long as you are credited for the original creation and any resulting ew creations are licensed under identical terms.

image  CC BY-NC-ND is an Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives license. This license allows others to download your works and share them with others  as long as you are credited for the original creation, but the whole work must be  used unchanged and cannot be used commercially. This the most restrictive Creative Commons license,