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Copyright and Licensing for Digital Projects

This guide supports scholars who want to learn about applying Creative Commons licenses to their creative digital works. It is also a resource to find Creative Commons licensed digital media and support for making fair use judgments.

About Creative Commons

One of the rights reserved for creators is the right to distribute copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, including licensing. Creative Commons licenses allow the creator to reserve some rights, while encouraging participation in the cultural dialog by applying a minimal license that allows copying and redistribution of their work. There are 4 restrictions that a Creative Commons license can require:

  • Attribution: You must acknowledge the creator of the work with appropriate credit
  • Share Alike: If applied, you can remix, transform, or build upon the work for any purpose, but must share your new work using the same license
  • No Derivatives: If applied, you can copy and redistribute the work in any format, but not change it in any way
  • Non-commercial: If applied, you may not use the work for commercial purposes

The Creative Commons website explains the licenses and what they allow. A creator can also apply a CC0 or Public Domain Mark provided by Creative Commons to signal that they are not reserving any rights to their work, or that there are no known restrictions to the reuse of the work.

Creative Commons logo

  • Share your creative works so for people to access it publicly
  • Communicates to people how they can or cannot use your creative works
  • Supports retaining your copyrights
  • Requires content users to give you credit and attribution whenever they use your creative works

Creative Commons License Spectrum

Creative commons license spectrum between public domain (top) and all rights reserved (bottom). Left side indicates the use-cases allowed, right side the license components. The dark green area indicates Free Cultural Works compatible licenses, the two green areas compatibility with the Remix culture.

       More details Creative commons license spectrum between public domain (top) and all rights reserved (bottom) by Shaddim

Image by Shaddim, shared under a CC BY 4.0 License via Wikipedia