Lesson Ten Reading

9. Creative Commons Licenses

This seemingly simple idea, of an ‘author’ creating a license enabling people to freely access and adapt copyright material, without charge or special permission, is one of the great ideas of the 21st century. This does not take away the author’s copyright, but the license gives permission automatically for different kinds of use of the material without charge or any paperwork or written permissions.

Figure 4: The spectrum of Creative Commons licenses © The Creative Commons, 2013

There are several possible Creative Commons licenses:

  • CC BY Attribution: 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.
  • CC BY-SA: 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 is particularly important if your work also includes other people’s materials licensed through the Creative Commons.
  • CC BY-ND: Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
  • CC BY-NC: 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.
  • CC BY-NC-SA: Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.
  • CC BY-NC-ND: The most restrictive of the 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.

If you wish to offer your own materials as open educational resources, it is a relatively simple process to choose a license and apply it to any piece of work (see Creative Commons Choose a License). If in doubt, check with a librarian.