Applying Creative Commons Licences to Your Teaching Material on iTunes U

Applying Creative Commons Licences to Your Teaching Material on iTunes U

This information sheet provides best practice advice to teachers on licensing their teaching materials on iTunes U.  ​It is intended to give guidance on the following:

What is iTunes U?

iTunes U is a dedicated section of Apple’s iTunes Store that contains a wide variety of print and audiovisual educational content (eg student worksheets, quizzes, PowerPoints, lecture notes, readings, lesson plans, presentations, PowerPoints, lab demos, video lectures, webcasts, podcasts etc) from universities, museums and public media organisations, available to download or to access from cloud storage. iTunes U allows a user to search for, download and play educational content in the same way that they can search, download and play songs, podcasts, television shows and movies from iTunes.

iTune U screenshot


To use the service, a user is required to download and install iTunes on an internet-connected computer, iPad, tablet or mobile phone, and then download the iTunes U app from the iTunes Store (shown in the screenshot above). Users can select entire courses or choose individual video, audio recordings, ebooks or PDFs etc. Selected material can be found in the ‘My iTunes U’ section on each user’s iTunes. The material can then either be watched directly on the PC or synchronised onto a portable media player for mobile learning.

Teachers can also use iTunes U to make their own content available to students.

When using iTunes U it is essential to understand some important licensing issues so that students, teachers and schools are using it to the best and most economical effect. Our comments on licensing are set out below.

Why licence educational resources under Creative Commons?

NCU encourages teachers to make their original teaching and learning material available as an “Open Education Resource” also known as “OER”.  This is done by applying a Creative Common licence to the material.

For more information on OER and Creative Commons see the following links:  OER, Creative Commons Quick Reference Guide and CC Guide for Educators.

NCU also strongly encourages teachers, schools and jurisdictions to use and incorporate Creative Common licensed materials in their teaching and learning materials.  See the above links for more information on how to find CC licensed material and OER.

Recommended attribution of teacher/school created teaching and learning material

NCU advises that the requested attribution should be the name of the department and/or school, as in general teaching resources created by teachers as part of their employment will be owned by their employer.

Set out below are suggested attribution notices for material licensed under Creative Common for government, Catholic and independent Schools

Government schools attribution

© [name of government and department and name of school] 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon
eg © State of New South Wales (Department of Education) 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon

Independent schools attribution

© [name of school] 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon
eg © Blue Mountains Grammar School 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon

Catholic schools attribution

© [name of School] 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon
eg © St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, North Sydney 2020, licensed under CC BY 4.0
CC BY icon

Dealing with third party material

If the teacher has included other people’s material (third party material) in their teaching and learning resources, that third party material cannot be CC licensed in their resource, so they will need to:

  • label that material as third party material, see How to Label Third Party Content in Creative Commons Licensed Material and
  • limit access to the material to students only via password protected access whether it is a share drive, intranet, content or learning management system (Equella, Blackboard, Moodle, Edmodo, Google Classroom, Google docs, iTunes U, etc). If you have incorporated any third party material in your resource, you are not to share the teaching and learning resource outside the class or school. This means you may not make this resource available on the public internet, school website or elsewhere, unless you have permission from the copyright owner(s).

How to license content on iTunes U under a Creative Commons licence

As you upload your teaching and learning materials on iTunes U, you are able to choose how to license your teaching and learning material.

These licensing options include Creative Commons  licences shown in the ‘Choose a licence’ drop down menu below:

Screenshot from setting page of itunesU

NCU recommends licensing your teaching and learning material under the Creative Commons Attribution licence which is the first option on the dropdown menu.  This is the most accommodating of licences offered, and it is recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials. The Creative Commons Attribution licence lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.

NCU also recommends that you apply the relevant CC licence icon (as shown above) prominently throughout the teaching and learning material.

For example:

For further information, see Applying a Creative Commons Licence.

At this time, iTunes U does not have search functionality that lets you search for CC licensed material, so these extra steps make it much easier for teachers to identify CC licensed material on iTunes U.

An example of a university which licences some of its iTunes U content under Creative Commonsis the University of Oxford. The following are examples of the prominent placing of the CC licence icon and information on these resources which include videos, sound recordings and presentations:

Oxford University website screenshot


Recommend not applying CC BY NC or All Rights Reserved

NCU do not recommend the CC BY Attribution Non-Commercial licence (CC BY NC) for educational resources for a number of reasons.  It is not clearly understood by many what would be a non-commercial use. It could be argued a CC BY NC licence may prevent educational use by a Catholic or Independent school or courses run for profit (eg by TAFEs or teaching training colleges). A second best option to CC BY is CC BY SA.  The CC BY SA adds an additional restriction on top of the CC BY licence and is suitable for use where you wish to limit the potential to commercialise derivative materials. This is because anyone who uses a work licensed under CC BY SA must also licence their resource under that same licence.

NCU strongly advises schools NOT to apply an ‘all rights reserved’ statement to their teaching and learning material as this will limit educational use of the resource. Teachers will only be able to use the material in accordance with the Statutory Text and Artistic Works Licence or in reliance of the flexible dealing exception. For further information, see the Copyright Guidelines. This means any educator wishing to use the teaching and learning material will need to comply with legal copying and access limits.  The teaching material will not be able to be modified or shared or reused outside the classroom.