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Copyright Basics Guide

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses provide a standardized way to grant permission for others to use a creative work under copyright law. Many scholars and artists choose Creative Commons licensing as an easy and safe option to share their work with the world in a free and open way.

There are many advantages to utilizing a Creative Commons license:

  • CC licenses are free and easy to use for both the owner and user
  • CC licenses include easy-to-understand language for both the owner and user
  • CC licenses are legal, and work with copyright law, not against it
  • CC licenses provide copyright owners with several options in what rights they grant to others
  • Creative Commons provides an easy tool to help authors select the right license for their works

CC License Options

Please use the following infographic to learn about the Creative Commons and its different license options:

Infographic by Martin Missfeldt, licensed under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons license. For a text version explaining the licenses, please visit the About Creative Commons Licenses page.

Why Use CC?

A Creative Commons license can help you safely and effectively manage the rights to your research while sharing your work freely and openly with the world. Along with the advantages of CC licenses mentioned above, there are additional, specific benefits as an instructor or researcher:

  • CC licenses encourage the use of your work and research, rather than hiding it behind a paywall or subscription.
  • You can allow others to either build upon, remix, or reinterpret your work and research while retaining credit and copyright for your contributions. This helps to foster a community of shared culture and scholarly research.
  • With CC licenses, you can create, share, and find learning tools, lesson plans, and more with other educators and researchers 
  • Embedding CC licenses into provides additional exposure for you as a creator and for your work, as it will be discoverable by CC searches. This can lead to more breakthroughs and citations.

Remember: Utilizing a Creative Commons license to your work doesn't take away your copyrights.