Identify & Using Existing Resources – Creative Commons

Open copyright licence enables collaboration, development, access, and inspiration from your creative works without requiring you to give up the rights (copyright) automatically granted to you for your creation. An open licence lets you retain ownership of your work, while allowing others to use, share, and remix it, without requesting your permission. For most open licences, all that is required of the users is to attribute you for your work. You can choose an open licence to maintain your copyright while enabling the public to use and remix your creative work. An open licence grants permissions and states restrictions; the specific permissions granted depend on the type of open licence you choose.

Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to make it easier for creators to share their work and/or build upon the works of others consistent with the rules of copyright. They have created standard, easy to use and understand copyright licences that anybody can apply to their work to allow others to share, remix, or use the work without having to contact the copyright owner to ask for permission.

Four Licence Elements

Each Creative Commons licence is made up of one or more of four licence elements: Attribution (BY), Share Alike (SA), NonComercial (NC) and No Derivatives (ND).


FIG 3.1 – Four Elements of a Creative Commons Licence

The four elements in FIG 3.1 can be combined to make up six different licensing options. Note that all Creative Commons licences require attribution, but otherwise the licence elements can be combined to allow for or restrict various activities, such as commercial use or adaptation.

Six Creative Commons Licences

There are six different types of Creative Commons licences. These licences are designed so that creators have options to provide restrictions on how they want their work to be used. They are made up of the four licence elements mentioned in FIG 3.1.


FIG 3.2 – Six Creative Commons Licences

Finding Permissions

Figuring out if you need copyright permission to use a resource can be complicated. Look for copyright information about the specific item you want to use from the source where you found it. On websites, or in databases, there may be a general copyright policy for the entire site; look for links to: “Terms of Use,” “Copyright,” “Use and Permissions,” or “Rights and Reproductions.”


UBC Supports – Creative Commons License



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

UBC Open Text Publishing Guide Copyright © 2022 by Erin Fields; Amanda Grey; Donna Langille; and Clair Swanson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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