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Scholarly Communications & Publishing

This guide provides an introduction to some of the central topics in scholarly communication and explains the WVU Libraries' services in these areas.

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.

Creative Commons Licenses

  • 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

License Elements

Works made available under a  Creative Commons Licenses are indicated with a Image result for Creative Commons Symbol symbol followed by one or more requirements to use the work. Creative Commons works can have up to four rights attached to the licenses. These rights add or subtract certain permissions and can be combined into six different CC licenses.

Creative Commons by Salah Mengerti CC BY 2.0

More Permissive to Less Permissive

Creative Commons License Structure

CC Licenses have three layers

  • Legal Code: This is the legal license. CC 4.0, the most current iteration of the licenses, has language to recognize international copyright differences.
  • Human Readable: Also know as the commons deed, a brief summary of the license that is user-friendly version. For non-lawyers, it provides the basics of what the license allows and requires
  • Machine Readable formats: A structured format This layer enables search engines, filters and tools to find and sort CC licensed content. Beyond the human readable logo, many CC licenses  you see online are emended code.

                                                                                                                                                                                       © 2011, Creative Commons,

Nathan Yergler, Alex Roberts. CC-BY 3.0 Unported 


CC-Licenses tailored to national laws

The earlier iterations of the CC licenses came in two versions: Unported,  which means not associated with any specific jurisdiction, and Ported, meaning that they been tailored to the legal conventions of particular jurisdiction. Although they are designed to have the same effect anywhere in the world, the use of a Ported License in a different jurisdiction could create issues with different interpretations of terms, such as what constitutes a derivative work.