Creative Commons: A Quick Overview

Creative Commons: A Quick Overview

This information sheet provides a short introduction to Creative Commons. For further information, including a detailed guide on how to find and attribute Creative Commons material, see the Creative Commons Information Pack.

Creative Commons provides an alternative licensing system so that authors, musicians and other creators can grant rights to the public to use their work without payment but still retain control over their copyright material. Schools can use Creative Commons resources such as music, film clips and photographs in their projects and teaching resources free of charge.

Conditions for using Creative Commons and other material

The licence terms under which items are available on these websites vary. Generally, you are asked to attribute (acknowledge) the name of the original creator when you use a copy of their work. Others require you to attribute the original creator and send them a copy of any resources you create which incorporate their material. Check the licence terms on each item before use.

Creative Commons Licence Symbols

Creative Commons licensed material can be identified by the use of one of the following symbols. Usually a notice with the words “Some Rights Reserved” will appear with one or more of these symbols. More information about the symbols used in Creative Commons licences is available at: http://creativecommons.org.au/licences.

Licence Symbol Type of Use You Can Attribution Required
Attribution (BY) Commercial and non commercial Copy and enhance (adapt or modify), redistribute (publish, display, exhibit, publicly perform or communicate eg by email or by placing on a website) and license to others on any terms. Yes
Attribution Share Alike (BY-SA) Commercial and non commercial Copy, enhance and redistribute but you must make the new work available on same licence terms as original Yes
Attribution No Derivatives (BY-ND) Commercial and non commercial Copy but not enhance. Redistribute only in original form. Yes
Attribution Non-commercial (BY-NC) Non Commercial only Copy, enhance and redistribute. License to others on any terms. Yes
Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (BY-NC-SA) Non Commercial only Copy, enhance and redistribute but you must make the new work available on same licence terms as original Yes
Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (BY-NC-ND) Non commercial only Copy but not enhance. Redistribute only in original form. Yes

For a quick guide on finding Creative Commons material, see section ‘Quick Reference Guide to Finding Creative Commons Material’

Attribution Only Licences

“Attribution Only” licences (see for example, the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence) are the easiest to use. These licences allow you to copy and enhance (adapt or modify) the source material and make your version available to others (redistribute) as long as you attribute the creator of the original material.

How to attribute Creative Commons material

You should always attribute the original work by adding a notice giving the following information (these details can usually be found on the original item):

  • the name (or pseudonym) of the creator of the original work
  • the name of the item
  • the details of the licence it was provided under (eg “Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia”)
  • the web address (URL) of the original item and the website it was found on (eg Flickr, Owl Music Search, etc).

However, you are only expected to provide this information in a form which is reasonable in the circumstances. This will depend on the information available about the original item, the way you are using the item and the space available. On a film, for example, it would be reasonable to add the name of the creator of the item with the Creative Commons details as a “credit” at the end of the film. If space is limited, for example, in the case of a photograph, list the name of the original photographer and the Creative Commons licence details under the photo.

Example: Chart on Volcanoes found on Flickr

Volcano Types Diagram

Made available under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution Licence: commercial and non-commercial use permitted; can be copied, enhanced and redistributed but attribution is required.

Suggested Attribution:

Original Chart: Cogdogblog (Flickr)

Made available under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution

Licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/817669/

Creative Commons and other Open Access Resources on the Web

Note to Teachers: Students should be supervised when searching these databases – some material may not be suitable for younger students.

Information about Creative Commons

Search tools for finding Creative Commons and Open Access resources

These sites have material which is searchable by how they can be used, including whether they are under a Creative Commons licence:

Web resources where all material is CC licensed or open access text

  • Wiki Creative Commons Books – CC wiki listing notable CC licensed books
  • Freepress – an artistic project which releases an eclectic mix of writing under CC licensing
  • Austlii – collection of Australian state and federal legislation, case law and journals. AustLII participates in the free access to law movement.

Images

  • Geograph – photographs of the British Isles all under CC licences
  • Openphoto – a moderated photo community with over 3000 CC licensed photos in various categories

Sound

  • CCmixter – CC sound remix tool and archive
  • Magnatune – CC record label
  • Jamendo – CC music distribution site
  • CChits – collaborative podcast where users can contribute, find and share music under CC licences
  • Artistserver– music community

Video

Collections

  • MIT Open Courseware – provides free, searchable access to MIT’s course materials for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.
  • OpenDOAR – a directory of open access academic repositories, featuring collections such as:
  • Overmundo Banco de Cultura – Brazilian multi-format CC archive (in Portuguese, but you can view the licences in English).

Web resources where some material is CC licensed or open access images

Other

For further information, contact your local copyright manager.

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