Understanding Creative Commons

Last Updated: 08/23/2019 13:30

Creative Commons gives creators a simple, standardized way to selectively license copyright permissions to their creative work.

License Types

Creative Commons offers creators a wide range of licensing terms.  Some are very permissive, and others are restrictive.  There are only three types of licenses UNT recommends faculty and staff use in course content:

CC0  cc-zero.png

The Creative Commons Zero license essentially commits the work to the public domain and as such the creator has reserved no rights in the work.  A third party may copy, distribute, display/perform, sell, and create derivative works of the original creation.

CC BY  cc_by.png

The Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license terms place only one restriction on the use of the work, and that is it must be attributed to the original author whenever copied, distributed, displayed/performed, sold, or made a part of a derivative work.  Best practices for crafting CC attributions include captioning an image or ascribing another type of work with the title of the work as a link back to the original web site, the name of the creator, and a linked name of the license term abbreviation.  An example would be:

CC BY-ND  cc_by-nd.png

The Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND) license terms carry the same attribution requirement as the CC BY terms, plus the additional restriction against the creation of derivative works.  Derivative works are modifiied versions or "new" versions of the creative work.  A derivative work can be created through dramatic changes, or subtle ones, such as cropping, color corrections, or the addition/removal of elements of the work.  The only permissible methods of modification are: (a) conversion of format, such as from a JPG to a PNG, or a DOC to a PDF; and (b) resizing of the image.  As such, if you use a work licensed under these terms, you must not modify it in any other way beside these two mentioned here.

All Other Licenses

Use of works in UNT course content would violate the terms of all other Creative Commons licenses.  The CC ShareAlike license terms would require that UNT license its course content under the same license, which the institution is very likely unwilling to do.  The CC NonCommercial license terms prohibit the use of the work in a transaction of any kind.  Since UNT receives financial compensation from its students for its courses, this would likely violate these terms as well.  As such, the only three licenses that are acceptable for UNT's purposes are the three discussed above.

Additional Reading

What do Public Domain & Creative Commons Mean?
Learn about the differences from the Harvard Law School Library and learn where to find media.
Creative Commons— Best practices for attribution
One condition of all CC licenses is attribution. This article includes good examples of attribution.
Understand the types of Creative Commons licenses
Peruse the “human readable” version of the CC license terms and conditions.
Attributing Creative Commons Materials
The CC Australian team developed this helpful guide to attributing works in different formats.
Creative Commons— License Versions
Compare license versions.
Creative Commons License Creator Tool
Search reliable sources for creative works including media, images, video, audio, music, web.
Creative Commons FAQs
This contains basic and detailed information.
Creative Commons Search
Search reliable sources for creative works including media, images, video, audio, music, web.

Research in-depth information from other external sources in Resources.

Search these multiple sources to Locate Usable Work — text, images, videos, and audio.