Before you start planning your project, you’ll need to ensure you understand copyright considerations for OER and open textbooks and how these differ from other types of educational materials. This includes understanding how open licences like Creative Commons licences work.
In copyright terms, a licence specifies what you can and can’t do with a copyrighted work such as an image, video or written text. Licences are usually very restrictive, prohibiting copying or redistribution except in a few special circumstances.
An open licence grants rights to access, re-use and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions.
For example, an image on a website made available under an open licence would be free for anyone to:
Creative Commons is a set of standardised licence features used to licence copyrighted works (including music, artistic, literary and video works) for public use. Creative Commons works are free to use provided the licence terms are followed.
Creative Commons licences can contain any of the following conditions:
Attribution (BY) – you must acknowledge the creator of the original work (in most CC licences)
NonCommercial (NC) – you can only use the work for non-commercial purposes
NoDerivatives (ND) – you can’t make any changes when sharing the work
ShareAlike (SA) – you must share any adaptations under the same Creative Commons licence as the original work
Zero – the creator hasn’t placed any copyright restrictions on the work
Public Domain – the work is in the public domain.
These conditions can be combined to form the six Creative Commons licences (CC0 is not considered a true CC licence).
You can read more about how each CC licence works on the Licence Deeds.
Once you understand how open licensing works, you’re ready to choose the best Creative Commons licence for your open textbook.
We recommend the use of a CC BY-NC licence when publishing textbooks on the OER Collective Pressbooks platform.
Your original content
Content created by your institution (check your IP, Copyright and OER policies to confirm)
SA or ND elements – maybe. Contact your Copyright Officer.
Anything you have received permission to use from the copyright owner.
‘What is an Open Licence?’ is based on ‘Open Licences and Creative Commons’ by Open Textbook Initiative, which was adapted from ‘Open Guide to Licensing’ by Open Knowledge Foundation, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.