Module 3: Creative Commons License

Open Licensing | Creative Commons | Elements & Types of Licenses | Assignment & Discussion

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the concepts of open licensing
  • Distinguish the different types of Creative Commons licenses

Open licensing

Watch: Why Open Education Matters from Degreed

Have you ever found something from the internet that could be a perfect resource (image, video, quiz, etc.) for your course, but you are not sure if you can legally use it?  Wouldn’t it have been nice if that resource somehow said “I’m free to use, no strings attached, you don’t need to ask for my permission because it is already granted”?  An open license is a type of license that grants permission to access, re-use, and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions.

You have probably heard of an open source license, a type of license for computer software that allows source code to be used, modified and shared under defined terms.  The free software movement was launched in 1983. Since then, the folks in the computer software world have been developing and sharing open source code with a clear licensing system. Additionally, other open licenses in computer-related areas have been developed, such as open database licenses and open game licenses.

Open licenses do not replace copyright; they work with copyright law to change the default setting from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." As discussed in Module 2, copyright gives copyright owners the exclusive right to dictate how users copy, distribute, and adapt a work. By default, all of those rights are reserved by the copyright owner, and anyone who wants to use a work needs to get permission from the copyright owner in the form of a license, unless a copyright exception like fair use applies. Open licenses are a particular kind of license that enable authors to grant blanket permissions to everyone, which makes it much easier for people to legally use the material in the ways the license allows. 


This module was created by Ching-Jung Chen. Portions of the content were adapted from: