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Open Educational Resources: Understanding Creative Commons Licensing

What is the Creative Commons?

Creative Commons logo

Creative Commons licenses are a simple, standardized way to give others permission to share and use your work -- on conditions of your choice. In Creative Commons, the creator retains copyright of their work while allowing others to make limited uses.

Creative Commons offers six different license types, which are all combinations of four different attributes:

All Creative Commons licenses are derived from a combination of these four attributes, listed below. 
By Attribution (by)
All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.
Share Alike ShareAlike (sa)
You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.
Non Commercial NonCommercial (nc)
You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.
No Derivatives NoDerivatives (nd)
You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

Creative Commons offers six copyright licenses. 

CC By Attribution (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.
 
CC BY SA Attribution ShareAlike (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.
 
CC BY ND Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)
This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.
 
CC BY NC Attribution-NonCommercial (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.
 
CC BY NC SA Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (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.
 
CC BY NC ND Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (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.

Disclaimer

The information presented here is intended for information purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.