Skip to Main Content
Skip to content

Creative Commons

An introduction to Creative Commons licensing of copyrighted works.

What is Creative Commons?



Creative Commons licenses enable the free use, sharing, and re-mixing of original work.

Creative Commons is both a non-profit organization and movement within scholarship, education, and the arts to simplify the use and reuse of original work protected by copyright law. Traditional ("All Rights Reserved") copyright creates restrictive terms under which a work may be used, shared, and adapted. Creative Commons provides authors with open licenses that they can use to waive some of the rights they would normally control under copyright.

According to the organization's website, "Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. From the reuser’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question, 'What can I do with this work?'"

Increasingly, academic publishers are allowing authors to affix a Creative Commons license to their work, in order to make scholarly books, articles, and data more openly available. Sometimes publishers require authors to pay for this open access to their work, and unfortunately, these article processing fees (APCs) can be prohibitively expensive. Some scholars use grant or department funds to cover this fee. UI Libraries also has cost-free options for making you work open access. 

This guide provides more information about using and applying Creative Commons licensing.