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Creative Commons and Copyright

Creating OER Content & Licensing Your Work: Creative Commons Licenses and Copyright

When you create OER content, it is best practice to openly license your work. Below are a few steps to help guide you in creating and sharing OER content.

  • License your Work with Creative Commons Licenses:
    • By default, you hold the copyright for any presentation, video, website, or software that you create. You don’t need to register or include a © symbol, copyright happens at the point of creation. Copyright is "all rights reserved," which means if someone wants to download or copy documents or other content from the material, they can’t distribute that content to anyone else without the expressed permission of the copyright holder. Creative Commons licenses allow the copyright holder to change “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” The copyright holder retains copyright, but clearly identifies conditions under which the general public may use the content (Open Michigan)
  • Use openly licensed material
  • Attribute others' materials appropriately
  • Share your work so that others may access. Contact a librarian for more information on how to do this  

Content adapted from UIC's Open Education Resources: Adopting or Creating Open Textbooks

Creative Commons 4.0 Licenses

Creative Commons Licenses allow creators to grant copyright permissions to their works in a standardized and easy manner. Depending upon the license, users can access content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon within the boundaries of copyright law.

The Licenses

Attribution or CC BY  

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.
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.

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.

View the License Deed and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons website.

Attribution-NonCommerical 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.

View the License Deed and the 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.

View the License Deed and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons website.

Attribution-NonCommerical-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.

View the License Deed and the Legal Code at the Creative Commons website.