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Scholarly Communication Services - Copyright for Teaching & Instruction: Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons and how can it be used in teaching and instruction?

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 LibGuides:

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

Creative Commons Essentials

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

Using Creative Commons (CC) Licenses & Works

Copyright and Creative Commons for Artists

Seemel, G. (2013). The new kind of copyright [Video]. Vimeo.

Creative Commons Licensing Conditions

Licensing Conditions (4)
Attribution (by)                     
ShareAlike (sa)                     
NonCommercial (nc)          
NoDerivatives (nd)               
Image credit: Licensing types, by Creative Commons.   Permission by CC-BY-4.0.

Creative Commons Licensing Types

Creative Commons licenses allow you to reuse an image or other creative work by following the guidelines for the specific licensed image. Creative Commons images may be licensed in 6 different ways by their creator. These licenses are listed in order of broadest to most restrictive:
Attribution CC BY         CC BY
Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA           CC BY-SA
Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC        CC BY-NC
Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND            CC BY-ND
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA   
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND  
The following licenses are labels for works that are free of copyright:
Public Domain (CC0) 
Free Cultural Works    

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

Creative Commons 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.

Citing Creative Commons Images

Your attribution should include these elements, which adheres to Creative Commons best practices.

Title of image/video [linked to original image]

by Author [linked to profile page]

under License [linked to license deed]

Click on the tabs above to see examples.

Use this Creative Commons Attribution Builder for assistance in building your attribution. 

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