Skip to main content

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and more. This Guide provides information on using OERs in your courses, tools to locate OERs by type and topic.

Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that aims to make creative work easy and free to use legally.  Creators use Creative Commons licenses to make it clear what you can and cannot do with their work.  CC licenses are the most common licenses used for Open Educational Resources.

Creative Commons does not replace copyright but compliments it.  Copyright owners keep their rights but give you permission to use their work in certain ways. Unlike most licenses, Creative Commons allows for fair use and other legal exemptions.  If you want to do something that the license (or fair use) doesn't allow, you can still ask for permission from the owner. For more information, see our Creative Commons Breakdown.

The Licenses

There are seven CC licenses: six "core" licenses and a public domain license.  The main licenses are all a combination of four conditions:

  • Attribution: You must give credit to the creator of the work.  When giving credit you should give the title, author, source, and license (known as the TASL framework).  For examples and more information, see Creative Commons' best practices for attribution.
  • NonCommerical: You may use the work for any purpose except to make a profit or gain commercial advantage.
  • ShareAlike: If you change or modify the original work, you must distribute the work under the same terms.
  • NoDeriviatives: You can copy, distribute, display, or perform the work, but you cannot make changes to it.

Icon          Name Abbreviation Explanation
Icon for CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license Attribution CC - BY

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify however you want.

Icon for CC BY SA Creative Commons Attritubtion Share Alike 4.0 License Attribution - ShareAlike CC-BY-SA

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify the work. 

Any new works you create by changing this work must be shared under the same license or a license with the same terms.

Icon for CC BY ND Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 4.0 License Attribution - NoDerivatives CC-BY-ND

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.

You cannot make changes to this work.

Icon for CC BY NC Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 4.0 License Attribution - NonCommerical CC-BY-NC

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify the work as long as you are not making a profit or gaining a commercial advantage.

Icon for CC BY NC SA Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical Share Alike 4.0 License Attribution - NonCommerical - ShareAlike CC-BY-NC-SA

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify the work as long as you are not making a profit or gaining a commercial advantage.

Any new works you create must be shared under the same license or a license with the same terms.

Icon for CC BY NC ND Creative Commons Attribution Noncommerical No Derivatives 4.0 license Attribution - NonCommerical - NoDerivatives CC-BY-NC-ND

You have to give credit.

You can copy, distribute, display, and perform the work as long as you are not making a profit or gaining a commercial advantage.

You cannot make changes to this work.

Icon for Creative Commons Zero Public Domain license Creative Commons Zero CC0

The creator is putting the work into the public domain. 

No credit is required.

You can use it in any way you want.

Which License is Right For Me?

If you are creating or adapting OER, you will want to put them under an open license for other people to use.  Creative Commons provides information and tools to help you decide which license is best for your creation.

If you are combining multiple open resources to make something new, you may need to pick a specific license to comply with Share-A-Like licenses.  Creative Commons has information on combining licenses, or you can contact Hunt Library.