Share OER – CC Licenses

CC Tools for Sharing OER


  • use a Creative Commons license or tool to share a work
  • distinguish between CC public domain tools and other CC licenses
  • determine how to best combine work under a CC license

Approximate time to complete: 45 minutes (30m read/watch; 15m activity)

Creative Commons (CC) Licenses & Tools for sharing

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters open education worldwide. They do this by providing CC licenses and public domain tools to help standardize and ease the communication of desired copyright parameters of work that anyone shares. This makes it easy for others to interpret your intentions and desires around the use of your work.

Before we look at the CC licenses specifically, know that work is underway to help with licensing work created within a cultural context. This is a meaningful conversation to have, especially if you work within a museum or other department sharing cultural, intellectual property. Read the article Is it possible to decolonize the Commons? An interview with Janee Anderson of Local Contexts. More information at the project site, Local Contexts. Do these resources change your perspective about cultural contexts and resource use within the open commons?

The CC Licenses

There are 6 CC licenses that you can use based on four central elements and 2 CC public domain tools. The six licenses are based on four main elements of permission – attribution, sharing, derivatives, and commercial use. The licenses have a three-layered approach to readability targeted toward ordinary humans, attorneys, and machines. 

Note that not all CC licenses are open culture licenses. CC0 ,  CC-BY ,  CC BY-SA are considered open culture licenses because they allow all the 5Rs to happen in any context (retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute). The other CC licenses are more restrictive and do not support an open culture of sharing, so they are not considered OER.

View a PDF version of the image below.Anatomy of a CC license infographic

Using & Combining Licenses

What happens when you want to create a new work that builds off of others with different CC licenses? It depends somewhat on whether you are creating a remix or a collection of items.

“How to use CC licensed work & CC licences together” by Jennifer Moss, CC BY-SA

The following video also outlines some scenarios of using combinations of CC licensed work.

Creating OER and Combining Licenses‘ from TheOGRepository by Florida Virtual Campus CC BY-SA

Additional Resources

Challenge Activity

#1 Pop-quiz. Is this work on WikiMedia Commons in the public domain? If you use it in a collection with this image, what CC license would you choose for your collection? (answer on the About page)

#2 Find a something that you created and will be sharing with others.  It can be an image you have uploaded, a document, a page on a website, pretty much anything as long as it is your original work.

#3 Make a Creative Commons license for the work you are sharing. Once you have chosen your CC license, copy and paste the license information in your document or website. It’s that easy!