Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Check Copyright and Licensing Compatibility

Conducting the Final Copyright Check

It’s a good idea to conduct one last copyright check of your open textbook before publication. This includes making sure you’ve:

Checking Creative Commons Licence Compatibility

Before you apply a Creative Commons licence to your textbook, you’ll need to make sure the licences on the content you’re reusing are compatible with the overall licence you’ve chosen.

While most Creative Commons licences are compatible when combining work under different licences, not all licences work together. The compatibility chart below shows which licences can and can’t be combined:

Chart showing compatibility of different Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons License Compatibility Chart by Kennisland on Wikimedia Commons, licenced under a CC0 licence.

The column on the left represents the licence of the original work. The top row represents the licence you want to combine it with.

As you can see, CC BY (Attribution) is compatible with most other licences and is therefore the most suitable licence for open textbooks. However it can’t be applied to open textbooks containing content licensed under ND (NoDerivatives). ND licences are the most restrictive since they don’t allow adaptations.

Online tools like OER Africa’s Creative Commons Licenses Compatibility Wizard can help you check licence compatibility.

Fixing an Open Textbook with Incompatible Licences

If the licence of the Creative Commons content you want to use isn’t compatible with the overall licence of your textbook, you may be able to:

When combining chapters from different open textbooks, you may be able to assign them their own licences, separate from the overall licence on the textbook.

For example: If most of the content in your textbook is CC BY, but you want to include a small number of CC BY-SA chapters, you may still be able to licence the textbook as CC BY, provided the CC BY-SA chapters remain under a CC BY-SA licence.

Pressbooks allows you to do this by creating separate metadata – including copyright and licensing information – for each chapter.

Getting Help with Checking and Fixing Licence Compatibility

Licensing is a complex issue and can be hard to get right, so it’s best to ask your university’s copyright team for help with checking and fixing licence compatibility.


Adapted from:

Remixing Content’ in Open Textbook Publishing Orientation (PUB 101) by Open Education Network, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

CC License Compatibility’ in UH OER Training by William Meinke, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

Creative Commons Licensing In-Depth’ in Open Educational Resources: Basics & Beyond by Oklahoma Council for Online Learning Excellence (COLE) Member Volunteers, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.