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Creative Commons & Openly Licensed Content

This guide provides resources for finding content that is creative commons, public domain, or otherwise openly licensed.

Creative Commons logo

 

Creative Commons licenses are a standardized way for creators to give the public permission to use content they create in certain ways without first having to ask for permission. There are six different types of licenses that range from very few restrictions to more restrictive. The license that is applied to the content tells you - the user - under what conditions you are permitted to use the content. 

Creative Commons Licenses

Elements of the licenses

The licenses are created by combining four elements:

BY  – Credit must be given to the creator

SA  – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms (meaning any new work you create using a work with SA applied must be shared with the same license)

NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted

ND  – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted (meaning you cannot change the work and must use it in its entirety without modification)

 

The six licenses

The licenses are often referred to as "cc licenses" for short, or by their initials, for example "cc by."

CC BY: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.

CC BY includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator

 

CC BY-SA: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.

CC BY-SA includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
SA  – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms

 

CC BY-NC: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

It includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted

 

CC BY-NC-SA: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. 

CC BY-NC-SA includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
SA  – Adaptations must be shared under the same terms

 

CC BY-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. 

CC BY-ND includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
ND  – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted

 

CC BY-NC-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

CC BY-NC-ND includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
ND  – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted

 

The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 

CC0 (aka CC Zero) is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.

Learn more about each license

Visit the links to learn more about each license. It is good practice to link to the license if you are creating a digital work and applying a cc license.

Content on this page is adapted from "About CC Licenses," linked below, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license.