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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Publishing via Creative Commons

When a creator or copyright holder assigns an open license to their work they are specifying how they want others to reuse it. Open licensing does not replace copyright. Open licenses work with copyright to promote shared use. This changes the copyright from “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”


Creative Commons Licenses

For Open Licensing, the most widely used open licenses are the Creative Commons (CC) licenses, which make it possible for educators to freely and legally share their work. Creative Commons licenses work with copyright to automatically give users a set of usage rights pertaining to that work. When something is licensed with a Creative Commons license, users know how they are allowed to use it. Since the copyright holder retains copyright, the user may still seek the creator’s permission when they want to reuse the work in a way not permitted by the license.


License Terms

Creators or copyright holders who wish to apply a Creative Commons license to their work can choose the conditions of reuse and modification by selecting one or more of the restrictions listed below. Every Creative Commons license except the Public Domain designation requires users to give attribution to the creator of the work. Other restrictions are optional and may prevent reuse in unintended ways, so care is suggested in selecting a license.


   cc Attribution by logo Attribution (BY)  

You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

   cc-NonCommercial logo Non-commercial (NC)

The material cannot be used for commercial purposes.

   CC Sharealike Logo  Share Alike (SA)

If you remix, transform or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

     CC Non-Derivatives Logo No Derivative Works (ND)

If you remix, transform or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.


License Types

There are six possible licenses that can be derived from combining the license terms described above and assigned to materials by the original creator or author. To learn more about the license designs, rationale, and structure of Creative Commons licenses, please read About the licenses by Creative Commons.

Creative Commons (CC) is an internationally active, non-profit organization that provides free licenses for creators to use so they can make their work available to the public. These licenses allow the creator to give permission for others to use their work under certain conditions.

Creative Commons Licenses material adapted from: “What is Creative Commons” by National Copyright Unit, Copyright Advisory Groups (Schools and TAFEs) licensed under CC BY 4.0

Applying a Creative Commons License to Your Work

STEP 1: Select an Appropriate Creative Commons License

Review each of the six main Creative Commons licenses types above. Creative Commons Choose A Licence Tool will help you make the right choice by guiding you through a number of options about the potential use of your work. The short video below provides some more information about how to use the license generator to help you pick a license. 

Based on your desired usage and distribution of your work, select the most appropriate license type.    


STEP 2: Review Key License Considerations

Review the considerations for licensors and licensees by Creative Commons (licensed CC BY).


STEP 3: Apply a Creative Commons License to your Work

It is important to add your preferred Creative Commons (CC) license to your document. This will mean that anyone viewing your thesis document via a Google search will clearly see the license terms you have assigned and permitted uses. 

a) Manually:  

  • Insert a copy of the appropriate CC icon from:
  • Add some text, e.g.: “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License”
  • Insert a hyperlink from your licensing text to the appropriate license.

b) Using the Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office (Word / Excel / PowerPoint):

For additional guidance: Marking your work with a CC license (by media type).