Creative Commons Licenses

Although there are many facets associated with how OER are created and used, the questions we most frequently receive have to do with copyright and its impact on the sharing and customizing of resources. In the United States, once a creative thought or idea takes tangible form, it is by default under full copyright, with all rights reserved for use by the original creator. Creators who want to share their work for others’ use and customization can put their works into the public domain, but that leaves creators with no rights reserved. While there are many options for how creators can communicate their desire to retain rights to their creation while simultaneously offering rights of use to others, the Creative Commons licenses have surfaced as easy to understand, apply, and discover.

Creative Commons licenses layer over copyright to provide creators a way to communicate that they want to share their work but would like some rights reserved. Creators “retain copyright over their work while allowing others to copy and distribute their work” (Creative Commons, 2020, p. 42).

Four Creative Commons elements combine to form six licenses communicating varying levels of permission. These elements are Attribution, NonCommercial, ShareAlike, and NoDerivatives.

Each Creative Commons license requries credit be given to the original creators. Additional elements communicate permission for commercial use, downstream licensing, and the degree to which the work can be modified or integrated with other creations [Creative Commons License Suite handout].

The Creative Commons organization has made it easy not only to discover CC licensed work, but also to license and share work of your own. These licenses can be copied onto documents or embedded into websites, and are legally robust as well as human and machine readable.

Syllabus and Suggested Schedule for dip and sip professional developmen: Open OKState Learning Circle Spring 2022

Syllabus and Suggested Schedule for student facing mini-course: Introduction to Humanities, Spring 2021

Syllabus and Suggested Schedule for mini bootcamp:  Open OKState Creative Commons Bootcamp

Crowdsourced Document: CC Licensed Materials


“Creative Commons Licenses” in Exploring Open by Kathy Essmiller is an adaptation of the Creative Commons Certificate published as of 2020  (the “Original Work”), licensed by Creative Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License . This adaptation is made and published by Oklahoma State University Libraries (the “Adapter”) under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The Adapter modified the Original Work in the following respects: curated content to facilitate engagement with the basics of Creative Commons licenses as a basis for further exploration, and localization of the resource for use by faculty, instructors, and students in the Oklahoma State University community.  Using the Original Work or the Adapted Work does not mean the individual doing so has earned a CC Certificate, nor may any organization or individual offer a “CC Certificate.” Note that the trademarks of Creative Commons and the Adapter are the property of their owners and require permission to reuse. Anyone who wants to take the CC Certificate is welcome to register here:”


Creative Commons. (2020). Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians. American Library Association.




Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Exploring Open Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Essmiller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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