Creative Commons

Why should I consider using a Creative Commons license to publish my work?

Creative Commons (CC) encourages openness and sharing of knowledge. Publish your original content using a CC license, instead of relying on the default “all rights reserved” copyright. Through a choice of six different types of licenses, CC offers a middle ground between public domain status (open to any use or purpose without permission or payment) and full copyright.

All CC licenses are “within the boundaries of copyright law.” The least restrictive license (CC-BY) only requires attribution to the content-creator (referred to as licensor), whereas other combinations address derivative, noncommercial, and share alike (requires derivatives to have the same license as the original) provisions, in addition to attribution. Based on your responses, the CC website will suggest license types and, if needed, provide HTML code that can be added to a webpage.

Content clearly marked with a CC license is subject to the express allowances and limitations defined by the licensor. In our current environment of freely available to view but not necessarily to use digital material, CC reassures users who want to be copyright compliant. For example, a videographer might choose a license that allows users to repost her video or make derivative works from it, as long as the use is for non-commercial purposes (CC BY-NC). A student who translates the video for an assignment (or fun!) doesn’t have to seek permission from or pay the videographer to create this derivative work and post it on his website.

What better way to promote your research and creativity throughout the world than by choosing to publish your work online using a CC license (or publish in the public domain)? This nontraditional copyright may not suit every purpose. Be sure this choice addresses all your concerns–switching content from a CC license to default copyright protections would undoubtedly be problematic. A CC license encourages more immediate, less restrictive use of that content in your lifetime. You may observe and revel in the impact your life’s work has on others, rather than stifle access 70 years beyond your death.

See EDUCAUSE’s 7 Things You Should Know About Creative Commons

What are the benefits of using Creative Commons content in instruction?

You can also use CC-licensed content for instructional purposes, such as inclusion in course packs or course management software, like BlackBoard. When you use CC content, time spent searching for a copyright owner to ask permission to reuse, remix, or share “All Rights Reserved” content is channeled to research, create new works, or teaching. Some directories of educational materials, sorted by subject area, include:

Creative Commons’ Education
Open Educational Resources

Free Photos for Bloggers: The Ultimate Guide by

The awesome infographic below visually summarizes the six Creative Commons licenses and how to cite CC works appropriately. Remember, if you didn’t create the work, it’s likely you don’t own the copyright! Consequently, you MUST provide a citation, otherwise you’re plagiarizing.