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Creative Commons

An introduction to Creative Commons licensing of copyrighted works.

The Licenses

Why use an open license? 

Because CC licenses encourage the sharing and reuse of original work, they make scholarship and teaching materials more visible and more impactful. The Creative Commons organization supports the open access movement by allowing authors to proactively make their work available for other researchers and the public. However, CC licenses do not negate any publisher agreements that an author may have already signed.

When to use a Creative Commons license

  • You want others to access, read, copy, share and/or remix something you've created without needing to seek your permission
  • You are interested in increasing the reach of your academic work
  • You want to create and share open educational resources (OER)
  • You control the copyright to your work

An overview of the licenses

This image provides an overview of the 6 CC licenses. Machine readable descriptions can be found here:

Image credit: "How to Attribute Creative Commons Photos"

Displaying the license on your work

After you've chosen a CC license from the list above, you'll need to display it for others to see using the CC license chooser. At the chooser, simply answer a few questions, fill in the fields you need, and receive an already formatted HTML code that you place in your website or document. You can also modify this output as necessary. The displayed license should include the following: 

  • Author name(s) and attribution of the work
  • The specific license is noted and a link to the license included
  • The machine readable layer that allows databases to parse the contents of the license
  • Any special notes. Is your work a modification of another work? Are you adding any warranties, or modifying the existing disclaimer in the CC license? Are you granting additional permissions beyond what the license allows? If your answer is yes to any of these, then you should note that along with the license information about your work. 

Sharing your CC-licensed work

Once you've chosen and posted your license, you may want to share your work in collections, repositories, or databases that allow other people to discover it. Below are some places you may consider posting your scholarship and teaching materials.