Creative Commons Licences (CCL) are pre-prepared licences intended to help copyright holders distribute their work, defining how it can be used by others without the need to grant bespoke permissions each time someone wants to use it.
Creative Commons, a not-for-profit organisation based in the US, has produced a number of model licences which authors can apply ‘as given’ or adapted to their requirements. The licences contain four main elements:
- Attribution (BY)- You must credit the licensor of the work.
- Non Commercial (NC)- You can only use the work for non-commercial purposes
- No Derivatives (ND)- You may not create adaptations of the work.
- Share alike (SA)- You may create adaptations of the work, but these must be under the same licence as this work.
These elements then combine to form six licences plus a final CC Zero or public domain licence which purports to waive all rights to the material it is applied to.
- Attribution-Only (CC-By)
- Attribution-No-Derivatives (CC-By-ND)
- Attribution-Non-Commercial No–Derivatives (CC-By-NC-ND)
- Attribution-Non-Commercial (CC-By-NC)
- Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike (CC-By-NC-SA)
- Attribution-Share Alike (CC-By-SA)
- Public Domain (CC-0)
For a useful overview see Briefing Paper (PDF - 73KB) by JISC Legal.
University of Birmingham staff attaching a Creative Commons licence
University Regulation 3.16 outlines the position regarding the ownership of intellectual property generated in the course of employment at the University. Section 5.4 covers the same where the creator is a registered student.
The University is keen to ensure that neither it nor its employees are denied rights to which they are entitled, or dispose of those rights without due consideration of all circumstances. Even though in law the University has copyright in work produced by its employees in the course of their duties, it actively assists in the publication process and very rarely asserts its ownership of that work. Additionally, in some circumstances the University may intervene in order to prevent an author from compromising through ‘prior publication’ any rights to future patenting that may be jointly shared.
There may be circumstances when releasing material under a CC licence is appropriate. Providing that you own the copyright in ALL of the material contained in a work, you should consult the Creative Commons website for full details. Aspects to consider include the licence to be applied and how you would like to be attributed in the copyright statement, including your association to the University.
Once you have decided on a licence type please contact email@example.com for a final review before you release the material as we may be able to offer advice and guidance.
Open Access publication
Open Access (OA) publications often use a CCL laying out the terms under which material may be re-used. Authors retain ownership, any moral rights and must also be credited. Equally, if you wish to include someone else’s OA material in your teaching materials or publications, the applicable CCL will clarify your options.
Research funding councils within their OA policies will often specify which CCL is to be used on outputs arising from the funded research. Similarly, journals will often have OA policies covering publication.
For more information including funder OA policies please see the ‘Disseminating Your Research