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Open Ed Resources: Creative Commons

An introduction to finding openly available scholarly material and a step by step guide to making your work openly available online

What is Creative Commons and why do I need to know about it?

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that provides free licences for individualsCreative commons license spectrum
who want to license their work in a way that allows for the work to be shared, remixed
and/or used by others for either commercial or non-commercial purposes.

By using the most open type of licence you contribute a truly openly reusable resource but
there are instances when you will want to restrict the conditions under which people can reuse your work.

Creative Commons Licenses enable you, the creator, to specify the conditions of re-use of your works by others
while, at the same time ensuring that you are credited for your work. 

Licences provide built-in copyright and last for the same duration as the copyright in the work. 
Applying a Creative Commons license to your own work does not mean you give up
your copyright
but it allows your work to be discovered, built upon and reused but attributed
to you when others use it. 

Creative Commons licences are used by all kinds of content creators and you can search
for items available using this Creative Commons search portal.  It is not common for books to have a
creative commons licence but you can view openly available books on our homepage of this guide. 

Our thanks to the National Forum for their Open Licensing Toolkit (2019) which provided definitions and examples for this guide. 

Creative Commons license spectrum CC BY 4.0 Shaddim via Wikimedia Commons


Types of Creative Commons licences

At the core of nearly all Creative Commons licences is the Attribution (BY) component, requiring all who reuse your work to provide full attribution to you. In addition to Attribution (BY), the three other CC licensing options are:

— Share-Alike (SA): All derivative work(s) must be shared with the same licence
— Non-Commercial (NC): Commercial usage rights are withheld
— No-Derivatives (ND): The work can be shared, but only if it remains unchanged

CC Licences and examples

CC By is the most open license while CC BY-NC-ND is the most restrictive.

You can find the license that suits you by going to Choose a License on the Creative Commons site. 

How do I choose a license for my work?

The Library at UL has a short tutorial about Creative Commons licenses. Upon completion of the interactive tutorial, you will

1. Understand what Creative Commons (CC) is
2. Know the elements that make up a Creative Commons license
3. Know the types of CC licenses and how to obtain a license
4. Have some suggestions about where you can share your work online
5. Have tested your knowledge of Creative Commons

Take the tutorial here, expected completion time is 10-15 minutes
Introduction to Creative Commons licenses