Want to share your screen? See the person you're talking to? Contact us via digital library desk! We will be with you shortly.
Creative Commons licences are among the most widely used public licences. They can lift copyright restrictions and are therefore an important pillar for Open Access (OA) and Open Science.
While re-use of copyrighted material requires permission from the copyright holder, CC licences allow re-use without explicit permission within the specifications contained in the licence.
The specifications are defined by modular combinations of BY and optional additional elements (SA, NC and ND). The specifications determine the degree of openness of the licence from very open (CC BY) to very restricted (CC BY-SA-NC-ND).
Give author attribution and link to licence
Derivatives must be made available under a similar licence
Re-use is only permitted for non-commercial purposes
The work must not be modified
When you decide to publish an article under a CC licence, you will be asked by the publisher which licence you want to choose. In the overview below, we list the implications of applying different elements to your licence.
Which licence to choose
Attribution (BY) is the most liberal licence. It allows sharing and re-using content in any context, provided that the author is properly attributed. Applying CC BY on scientific publications is strongly recommended.
Adding further elements to the licence controls the context in which the material can be re-used. These additional restrictions can significantly hinder Open Science.
ShareAlike (SA) requires to publish the work that contains re-used material under a similar licence. As explained by OASPA, "material distributed within a Share-Alike article could only be combined and redistributed with other share-alike content".
NonCommercial (NC) prohibits use in a commercial context. This excludes for example re-use in a textbook to be used or for text data mining projects, if commercial tools are used.
It is a common misconception that this licence prevents the commercial exploitation of the idea presented in the publication.
NoDerivatives (ND) prevents any modification of the re-used content. That means, for example, the content could not be translated or altered in colours.
Publishers often suggest using a CC BY-NC-ND licence. However, this will restrict re-use to an extent that is almost equivalent to a copyright licence. Therefore, applying CC BY-NC-ND is discouraged for open scientific publications.
Once a work has been published under a particular licence, this licence cannot be revoked. It is therefore important to consider whether the selected specifications will permit the desired forms of use before issuing the licence.
A licence can be created with only a few clicks in the licence chooser on the Creative Commons website. This tool will guide you in simple steps towards the right licence for your purpose.
The licence chooser tool will provide textual, HTML and machine-readable XMP versions to mark your content. All you have to do is copy and paste the output where otherwise copyright informations would be placed, e.g. to a cover page or a footer. It is essential to include the link to the licence as well, either as hyperlink or in textual form.
Example CC BY licence as HTML output for websites:
This work is licensed under CC BY 4.0
Example CC BY licence in textual form for print/media:
This work is licensed under CC BY 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Optionally, year of creation, title and author can be added, as well as links to the work itself and the author's website.
To re-use content under a CC BY licence, first make sure that any additional specifications in the original licence (SA, NC, ND) allow your particular re-use, as described above.
You must retain the information the creator of the original work supplies, provide an indication if you modified the licenced material, and indicate the original licence either in textual form or by including a URI or hyperlink to this licence. The conditions for re-use must be satisfied "(...) in a reasonable manner based on the medium, means, and context (...)" in which the licenced material is shared.
Best practice attribution suggests to follow the TASL-Scheme, that is Title - Author - Source - Licence.
Following the TASL scheme, the attribution would go as shown in the caption:
The text in the caption contains the core elements:
Any modification of the picture, such as cropping or colour filters, should be indicated as well.
In some cases, the TASL scheme will not be suitable for your particular purpose. For example, an illustration that is re-used from a scientific publication does not necessarily have a title. Here, a more appropriate scheme such as Subject - Author - Source - Licence can be applied. In a journal article, a good attribution could then be for example:
Instead of the title of a work, the subject is indicated. The author is referenced as in the example above and the source will be included just like any other citation in the references. The licences are also referenced including the specifications (here BY-SA) and version number (4.0).