Skip to Main Content

Open Education: Creative Commons Licenses

A "getting started" guide overviewing open, editable, and lower-cost textbooks and open teaching & learning resources for faculty, students, and librarians.

Why Open Licenses?

An Introduction to Open Licensing and Creative Commons in the context of U.S. Copyright

For most people understanding U.S. Copyright law is challenging and often frustrating. The complexities of understanding your rights as a copyright owner, as a user of third-party works, even as an educator, and especially in a digital environment take time and effort. Laws pertaining to copyright changes over time, and the purpose of copyright "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts" (I U.S. Constitution S8, c8) sometimes seems lost, especially for those who are not legal experts.

While extremely specific use exemptions exist for classroom teaching, libraries, and online learning exist (see "Copyright in Teaching"), fair use analyses are still an option, and obtaining permission (and sometimes paying a fee) are also options, the advent of authors applying Creative Commons licenses to their works has greatly broadened the availability of creative, original works which may be used with attribution as designated by their authors.

How do I determine whether something is "openly-licensed"?

Using and Authoring CC licensed works

Where to share your original works

VTechWorks is the Virginia Tech institutional repository, managed by the University Libraries. Its purpose is to highlight, preserve, and provide unrestricted access to the work of faculty, staff, and students, as well as the intellectual output of the university in its land-grant mission to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community through the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. New user registration  Questions? Contact Philip Young.

Open Textbook Library is a project of the Open Textbook Network and the Center for Open Education at the University of Minnesota. If you've created (or found) an openly licensed, complete, and downloadable textbook whose license allows adaptation or derivatives, please consider submitting it to be listed in the Open Textbook Library. Contribute material

MERLOT is a curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community. MERLOT is a program of the California State University System partnering with education institutions, professional societies, and industry. New user registration  Contribute material

OER Commons is a free dynamic digital content hub offering a suite of OER supports. Funded by ISKMEContribute material and See "how to" videos and exemplars.

Wikimedia Commons and Internet Archive are two other hosting/sharing platforms.

There are many other disciplinary and institutional repositories and "referatories" which aim to collect, curate, and enable ease in finding openly licensed resources. Ask your disciplinary societies if such a repository exists for your subject area.

You will also want to make certain that you mark your work so that everyone knows up front about the intelletual property status of your work. Include author and license information, and make sure that the license on your work is machine readable (easy; technical). This will enable search engines with "usage rights" filters to find things you create. (For example: Google Advanced Search offers filtering by "usage rights".)


Get Creative: The History of Creative Commons (6:37)

Book: Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians


All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 3rd-party content including, but not limited to images and linked items, are subject to their own license terms. CC BY License

About Copyright. . .

Open Source Software Licenses