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Creative Commons Licenses

A guide to open licenses and creating open educational resources (OER) with those licenses

Adding a License to Your Material

How do I apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to my material?

For online material

Select the license that is appropriate for your material from the CC license chooser and then follow the instructions to include the HTML code. The code will automatically generate a license button and a statement that your material is licensed under a CC license. If you are only licensing part of a work (for example, if you have created a video under a CC license but are using a song under a different license), be sure to clearly mark which parts are under the CC license and which parts are not. The HTML code will also include metadata, which allows the material to be discovered via Creative Commons-enabled search engines.

For offline (i.e., print) material

Identify which license you wish to apply to your work and either (a) mark your work with a statement such as, “This work is licensed under the Creative Commons [insert description] License. To view a copy of the license, visit [insert url]”; or (b) insert the applicable license buttons with the same statement and URL link.

For third-party platforms

Many media platforms like Flickr, YouTube, and SoundCloud have built-in Creative Commons capabilities, letting users mark their material with a CC license through their account settings. The benefit of using this functionality is that it allows other people to find your content when searching on those platforms for CC-licensed material. If the platform where you’re uploading your content does not support CC licensing, you can still identify your content as CC-licensed in the text description of your content.

Legally, these three options are the same. The only difference between applying a CC license offline rather than online is that marking a work online with metadata will ensure that users will be able to find it through CC-enabled search engines.

CC offers resources on the best practices for marking your material and on how to mark material in different media (.pdf).

Text: Frequently Asked Questions by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY.