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Open Licenses

What are Creative Commons Licenses?

Creative Commons licenses are a common open license, especially for scholarship and open educational resources (OER). Like other open licenses, they work within copyright and outline explicitly which rights the creator wishes to retain over their work. Creative commons licenses outline four central restrictions:

The Creative Commons Licenses - Open Licensing with Creative Commons -  LibGuides @ URI at University of Rhode Island  BY: Attribution. Users must attribute the original work and creator.

Downloads - Creative Commons  SA: Share Alike. Any edits must be shared using the same license as the original.

Downloads - Creative Commons  NC: Non-commercial. Users are not allowed to commercialize items. In other words, uses "primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation” are prohibited.

Creative Commons licenses – Hack4FI  ND: No derivatives. Users are not allowed to make any derivatives of the original work. In other words, edits and adjustments, including translations, are prohibited. 


These restrictions combine to make 6 Creative Commons licenses:

Each license can be interpreted by thinking: "Users are allowed to do whatever they want with the work as long as they _______," where you fill in the blank based on the restrictions. So, for example, the CC BY-NC-ND license can be interpreted as  "Users are allowed to do whatever they want with the work as long as they attribute the original creator/work (BY) and don't commercialize (NC) or make changes to the work (ND)."

More on Creative Commons Licenses


Hover over the license text for more information about what each license means. Clicking on the link will take users to the licenses' site on the Creative Commons website.