Open Licensing

What is an Open License?

At a minimum, an open license allows you to make and distribute copies of the openly licensed resource, both activities usually prohibited by copyright law. Depending on the terms of the open license, you may also be permitted to revise or remix the resource, or reuse the content in other contexts.

Creative Commons Licenses

Although there are a number of types of open licenses intended for different purposes, most Open Educational Resources (OERs) are made available under a Creative Commons License:

 List of creative commons licenses from broadest to narrowest

 Infographic CC BY Shaddim on Wikimedia Commons

The most permissive Creative Commons license is a CC zero license, which means that the copyright owner releases the resource into the public domain and there are no longer any restrictions on its use. All of the other Creative Commons Licenses require that users provide attribution--which should include the title of the resource, the author's name, the license, and a link--and may have additional requirements as listed below:

  • ShareAlike, abbreviated SA: If you re-post or modify the resource, you must post the new version under the same license as the original. You should also avoid creating access restrictions.
  • Noncommercial, abbreviated NC: You may not profit monetarily from use of the resource.
  • No Derivatives, abbreviated ND: You may not modify the resource.

You can learn more about Creative Commons licenses on the Creative Commons Website.

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