About CC Licenses

Creative Commons (CC) Licenses

Open Educational Resources can be licensed under the following options:

  • CC0
  • CC BY
  • CC BY-SA
  • CC-BY-ND
    • Not considered “open” because they cannot be edited, but the whole resource can be included in a CC-collection, such as a course Reader
  • CC BY-NC
  • CC BY-NC-SA
  • CC BY-NC-ND
    • Not considered “open” because they cannot be edited, but the whole resource can be included in a CC-collection, such as a course Reader

Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below is a list of curated questions from Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How should I decide which license to choose?

If you are unsure which license best suits your needs, there are plenty of resources to help rights holders choose the right CC license. CC Australia has developed a flow chart that may be useful in helping you settle on the right license for your work. Creative Commons has also compiled a list of examples that demonstrate how various licenses fit into licensors’ overall strategies. You can also read case studies of others who are using CC licenses. The CC community can also respond to questions, and may have already addressed issues you raise. The CC community email discussion lists and discussion archives may be useful resources.

Finally, you may also want to consult with a lawyer to obtain advice on the best license for your needs.

Can I combine material under different Creative Commons licenses in my work?

It depends. The first question to ask is whether doing so constitutes an adaptation. If the combination does not create an adaptation, then you may combine any CC-licensed content so long as you provide attribution and comply with the NonCommercial restriction if it applies. If you want to combine material in a way that results in the creation of an adaptation (i.e. a “remix”), then you must pay attention to the particular license that applies to the content you want to combine.

The NoDerivatives licenses do not permit remixing except for private use (the pre-4.0 licenses do not permit remixing at all, except as allowed by exceptions and limitations to copyright). All the other CC licenses allow remixes, but may impose limitations or conditions on how the remix may be used. For example, if you create a remix with material licensed under a ShareAlike license, you need to make sure that all of the material contributed to the remix is licensed under the same license or one that CC has named as compatible, and you must properly credit all of the sources with the required attribution and license information. Similarly, if you want to use a remix for commercial purposes, you cannot incorporate material released under one of the NonCommercial licenses.

The chart below shows which CC-licensed material can be remixed. To use the chart, find a license on the left column and on the top right row. If there is a check mark in the box where that row and column intersect, then the works can be remixed. If there is an “X” in the box, then the works may not be remixed unless an exception or limitation applies. See below for details on how remixes may be licensed.

If I create a collection that includes a work offered under a CC license, which license(s) may I choose for the collection?

All Creative Commons licenses (including the version 4.0 licenses) allow licensed material to be included in collections such as anthologies, encyclopedias, and broadcasts. You may choose a license for the collection, however this does not change the license applicable to the original material.

When you include CC-licensed content in a collection, you still must adhere to the license conditions governing your use of the material incorporated. For example, material under any of the Creative Commons NonCommercial licenses cannot be used commercially. The table below indicates what type of CC-licensed works you may incorporate into collections licensed for commercial and noncommercial uses.

Original Work Commercial Collection (BY, BY-SA, BY-ND) NonCommercial Collection (BY-NC, BY-NC-SA, BY-NC-ND)
PD Yes Yes
BY Yes Yes
BY-NC No Yes
BY-NC-ND No Yes
BY-NC-SA No Yes
BY-ND Yes Yes
BY-SA Yes Yes