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Open Education Resources (OER): Creative Commons Licences

An OER guide for CDU staff and students

Creative CommonsCreative Commons Licences

Open educational resources are a licensed resource that allows creators to freely share their work under licences with others on flexible terms. These licences are called Creative Common (CC) licences.CC Licences are a way of legally allowing others to use your material but with certain conditions attached  There are several different types of CC licences with different permissions associated.   Most of the licences allow  re-use for non commercial purposes with some not allowing changes such as re-mixing or adaptation.

It is important with open education resources that you check the CC licences before using the material.

Find out more:


Types of CC licences

The six licences below are the ones you are most likely to see. They are a mix and match of the licence elements and the table below summarises the conditions attached to each license standard. It is recommended that you read the full licence before using it.

Public Domain

(CC0) - There are no restrictions on using public domain content.

The six licences

Attribution alone

(BY) By Attribution. Permits all uses of the original work, so long as it is attributed to the original author.  (Note that Attribution is in all six licences)

Attribution + ShareAlike

(BY-SA) By Attribution - Share Alike.  As above, but any derivative work must also use a similar licence.  Hence, "Share Alike".

No Derivatives

(By-ND) By Attribution - No Derivatives.  Licensed works are free to use / share with attribution, but does not permit derivative works from the original.


(BY-NC) By Attribution - Non-Commercial.   Licensed works are free to use / share / remix with attribution, but does not permit commercial use of the original work.

Non-commercial Share Alike

(BY-NC-SA) By Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share Alike.  Does not permit commercial use of the original work, and any derivatives from it must use a similar licence.

Non-Commerical - No Derivatives

(BY-NC-ND) By Attribution - Non-Commercial - No Derivatives.  Does not permit any commercial use or derivatives of the original work.  Note this is t he most restrictive of CC licences and is often regarded as a 'free advertising' licence.

Licence elements

Every CC licence is based around a combination of four 'optional' licence elements allowing the creator to select how they want others to use their work.  CC material can be used by licensees in any work they like, providing they adhere to the specific licence conditions.

Each element has its own icon and abbreviation, making them easy to identify.

Attribution (BY)

Attribution BY

Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these.

Share-alike (SA)

Share alike

Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical ("not more restrictive") to the license that governs the original work.

Non-commercial (NC)


Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only for non-commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works (ND)

No derivative works

Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works and remixes based on it.

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