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Open Licenses for sharing your work

Balancing the rights of creators and users. Open licenses grant users some permissions to use and distribute a work, permission not granted by the default "all rights reserved" of copyright.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses have become the gold standard of open licenses. There are now well over a billion items using Creative Commons licenses. This includes Open Access articles, with the majority of articles using CC-BY, and Open Educational Resources (OER). There are tens of millions of original videos on YouTube with a Creative Commons license, and hundreds of millions of images on Flikr. Creative Commons Licenses are most often used for items like, books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites. Although one can use a Creative Commons License for software, because there is a well developed open licensing ecosystem for software, Creative Commons suggests using a license specifically designed for software.

Under the terms of the licenses, the copyright holders (licensors) still retain their copyrights and grant usage rights to the public (licensees). The licenses offer creators an array of choices with regards to the permissions they will grant to others.

For additional information about Creative Commons Licenses please see Hillary Fredette, Creative Commons and the CC licenses guide.

Why Creative Commons?

  • Legal tools for creators to cede some of their rights over a work to the public


  • Licenses permit reuse, but in return, the user must comply with conditions set by the creator


  • Work worldwide (i.e., are adapted to local jurisdictions everywhere)


  • Last as long as copyright, and for as long as the user complies with the license’s terms


  • Creators have six licenses to choose from, depending on what kinds of restrictions they want to apply to uses of their work
    • All CC licenses require the user to credit the creator


  • Why?
    • A common set of licensing tools to ease sharing
    • Legal tools to match the technological abilities of the Internet
    • Seeing a CC license on something → you don’t have to ask to use it!
    • Expansion of the global knowledge and cultural commons