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Open Textbooks, OER & Other Open or Free Resources for Faculty: Creative Commons Licenses

A guide to exploring open textbook options for faculty.

Creative Commons and Copyright

Copyright is the intellectual property law that protects a creative work from theft or mis-use.  It is the creator's legal claim to the works that he or she creates. By default, any original creative work is copyrighted to the creator when that work is expressed in a tangible form.  

What is Creative Commons? - (from the Creative Commons website, which is licensed as CC-BY)

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

So when you create something, you already have the copyright, but you can add the Creative Commons license layer to that work.  YOU ARE NOT giving up your copyright, but specifically modifying your copyright to indicate how that content can be used by others. As Educause states 

Higher education is rooted in the belief that the free exchange of knowledge is fundamental to the common good, and faculty and researchers in large numbers have begun using Creative Commons licenses to facilitate a climate of openness and sharing. (7 things you should know about Creative Commons)

Want to know more about Copyright in the United States?  Check out the FAQ from the US Copyright office. 

Public Domain CC License

It is possible as a content creator to relinquish your copyright claim on that creation.  Creative Commons also has a Public Domain or CC0 license that marks a work as completely open; there are no restrictions and the creator does not have to be credited if you re-use this work.

CC0

Find out more at the Creative Commons Public Domian page.

Creative Commons 4.0 licenses

http://creativecommons.org

 

There are six Creative Commons (CC) licenses.  These CC licenses indicate the use parameters that have been granted by the content creator.  The content creator still owns the copyright to that content, but through the selected CC license the creator is granting re-use of the content under the specified parameters. There is more on the history and uses of CC licenses on the Creative Commons Website.


 

Attribution only or CC-BY License

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

This is the most open license, you can re-use the content in any way, even in a commercial endeavor as long as you give proper credit to the content creator.  

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

You can view the License Deed  and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

 

 

Attribution-ShareAlike  or CC BY-SA

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

This license is as open as the CC-BY license (you can use the content in any way, even in a commercial endeavor) as long as you ALSO share the final content under the same license structure - that is CC BY-SA.  So even if you used the content in a commercial product (which would be allowed) you would also have to openly share that content in a manner similar to how you found that content (for example on the web).  

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

You can view the License Deed  and the View Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

Attribution-NonCommercial or CC BY-NC

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

This license adds the non-commercial restriction to the attribution requirement, so you can use the content in any non-commercial application as long as you give proper credit to the creator.  

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

You can view the License Deed and the  View Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or CC BY-NC-SA

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

 You can view the License Deed  and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

Attribution-NoDerivs or CC BY-ND

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

The Non-derivative license is a bit more complicated, because there is some question about what constitutes a "derivative."   It is not clear that if you take this content and then place it into a sytem (like an LMS or even onto your own website) that you are (or are not) creating a derivative.  Our suggestion is to either contact the content owner, or to link to this content instead of embedding it into another system.   

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

You can view the License Deed  and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs or CC BY-NC-ND

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

The Non-derivative license is a bit more complicated, because there is some question about what constitutes a "derivative."   It is not clear that if you take this content and then place it into a sytem (like an LMS or even onto your own website) that you are (or are not) creating a derivative.  Our suggestion is to either contact the content owner, or to link to this content instead of embedding it into another system.  And of course this content can not be used in a commercial endeavor.  

This license is usually represented by one of these two icons.

You can view the License Deed and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons Website.

 

 

Disclaimer:  This information on Copyright, Fair Use and Creative Commons Licensing should be read for informational purposes only.  This site nor any of its contents constitute legal advice.  

 

Introduction to Creative Commons Licenses

License

Content based on a guide from the librarians at the University of Oklahoma. All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

Creative Commons License