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Copyright: Creative Commons

This guide provides a brief introduction to copyright.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides copyright owners with a number of free copyright licenses, which help copyright owners manage their rights and communicate to others how their works may be used.  Creative Commons (CC) licenses provide a “some rights reserved” option for copyright owners who want to let others use their works under certain conditions.  These licenses grant copyright permissions to allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of CC works.  CC items are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities (retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute).

There is no cost or registration needed. 

  • As a copyright owner, simply attach a license to your work.
  • As a researcher, follow the license restrictions, if any, and give attribution to the author.  The license is usually listed at the bottom of the resource or on the title page. To better understand the license terms and their use, review the information below. 

Please see this book by Creative Commons for more information.

The Licenses

Creative Commons licenses provide copyright owners with different options to allow others to make use of their
works without asking for permission. Each bolded acronym below stands for a license requirement set by the
copyright owner/author. The license symbol is not always included in the citation. The license is usually listed at
the bottom of the resource associated with it.

  • BY Attribution. All Creative Commons licenses require attribution. A user may copy and distribute the work but the copyright holder (licensor) must receive credit for the original work. In addition to providingcredit, a user must indicate any changes they made to the original work.
  • NC Non-Commercial. Under the terms of a non-commercial license, a user cannot use the work in a way that is primarily intended for monetary compensation or commercial advantage.
  • ND No Derivatives. Under the terms of a no derivatives license, a user may copy and distribute a work (in any format) but they may not make any modifications to the work.
  • SA ShareAlike. A ShareAlike license allows users to remix, transform, or build upon the original work. Any new work or contribution that is created based on the original must be made available under the same (orcompatible) Creative Commons license.

Below are the symbols associated with the terms you prefer. A license and symbol can be created for you. Forhelp, try the Creative Commons License Chooser.
















Creative Commons and Public Domain Licensing
In addition to the license options, Creative Commons provides a public domain waiver tool (CC0) and a Public
Domain Mark tool. Copyright owners may use the CC0 tool to waive all rights to their work, placing the work
within the public domain.

Creative Commons Collection

Look for resources in the specific area you need.

Creative Commons – a collection of Creative Commons licensed materials.

  1. General OER Searching.
  2. Photo/Image Search.
  3. Video Search.
  4. Audio/Music Search.
  5. General Education Search.
  6. Recorded Lectures & Video Tutorial Search.
  7. Open Textbook Search.
  8. Simulation and Animation Search.
  9. Modular Course Components.
  10. Completed Courses.

How to Give Attribution for Creative Commons Items

Creative Commons Attribution should include the following:

  • Creator
  • Title of Work
  • Link
  • The license under which it is being used

E.g. Creator: Niamh Cotter

 Title of Work: Monkey likes Tamarind


The license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sample attribution:  "Monkey likes Tamarind" by Niamh Cotter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For more details on attribution, please see Creative Commons Chart.