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Copyright for Teaching and Instruction

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons

This page will assist with questions regarding the following:

  • For face-to-face teaching; For online learning (posts on Canvas or online courses):  finding books, articles, videos, images, or other works to reuse for teaching, assignments, or other scholarly or creative purposes.

Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.  Creators of works can use Creative Commons licenses to set conditions of their use, sharing, and derivatives, and do this to share work and make it more widely available to view and use.  CC licenses generally do not take away a creator's copyright, and allow reuse of a work without permission

Anyone can reuse a work with a Creative Commons license by following the terms of its use (see "Creative Commons Licensing Conditions" in this guide).  Such works have been reused in the following ways for teaching, scholarship, and creative activities when following their terms of use:

  • Instructional materials:  books, eBooks, articles, labs, exercises and other types.  
  • Presentations or multimedia:  use CC-licensed images or sounds in presentations, publications, or creative works.
  • Remixed or repurposed works:  depending on the CC license, some works can be reused, repurposed, or redesigned into something new (known as a derivative work)!

Related Research Guides

Content credit for this page: Images (LibGuide). By Lauri Rebar.


Wikimedia Foundation (2017, February). What is Creative Commons? [Video]. YouTube.

Using Creative Commons (CC) Licenses and Works

Licensing Conditions

  Attribution (BY):  Users of works with this license must give credit or attribution (CC-BY).           
  ShareAlike (SA):  Users must allow sharing a work with this license as a condition of its reuse.
  NonCommercial (NC):  The work can be reused for noncommercial, not-for-profit purposes.
  NoDerivatives (ND):  New versions or derivatives of the work cannot be created.
Image credit: Licensing types, by Creative Commons.   Permission by CC-BY-4.0.

Licensing Types (6)

Creative Commons licenses allow you to reuse an image or other creative work by following the guidelines for the specific licensed image.  They are licensed in 6 different ways by their creator. These licenses are listed in order of broadest to most restrictive use.  Note how the licensing conditions have been combined.

CC BY Attribution (CC BY)   

CC BY  Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA )

CC BY-ND  Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND)  

CC BY-NCAttribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND)

The following licenses are labels for works that are free of copyright:

Public Domain Mark (CC0) 

Free Cultural Works    

Image credits:  Licenses and examples, by Creative Commons.  Permission by CC BY 4.0.

Licensing Spectrum

What types of CC licenses can be shared, remixed, and used for commercial uses?  Which licenses tend to be more open or have more restrictions?

Spectrum of Creative Commons Licenses

Image credit: Creative Commons License Spectrum by Shaddim. Permission by CC BY.

Last updated on Jan 29, 2024 2:13 PM