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Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

A brief overview of Copyright, Fair Use, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the TEACH Act.

Licensing Options

There are six licensing options:

Attribution:- This is the most liberal. Allows all types of uses as long they credit you for the original creation. - allows distribution, remixing, tweaking, and building up on your work. Allows commercial use.

The other 5 licenses increasingly add restrictions.

Attribution Share Alike:- Often compared to open source software licenses. The share alike means that uses are all available as with the one above but any derivatives would need to be licensed under the same terms.

Attribution No Derivatives: Still allows commercial use but no derivatives..

Attribution Non-Commercial: This takes the basic attribution license and just adds the non-commercial restriction

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike: All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives: This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

What are Creative Commons?

Some web sites are allowing their users to choose a Creative Commons license. This nonprofit organization offers a number of licenses which users can designate their own terms ranging form 'Some Rights Reserved' to public domain. Creative Commons-licensed materials are not all public domain, you will have to look closely to be sure.  

CC attributions vary, therefore you must read the summary of the license to understand how to use the image, texts, videos, music etc. 

For instance, Tufts University Open Courseware uses the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States Creative Commons license, which means if you use this as a reference, you must specify Tufts as the author as well as share what you create from their work in a similar way. This is not public domain but allows users to access content, adapt, and share it as well.

License Your Work


With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit — and only on the conditions you specify here.

For those new to Creative Commons licensing, has prepared a list of things to think about. If you want to offer your work with no conditions, choose the public domain.

Find CC Licensed Works


Open Courseware

·         Open Courseware Consortium

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions & associated organizations (including Stanford, Tufts, MIT), worldwide creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.


·         Project Merlot

Good site to find peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials, share advice and expertise about education with expert colleagues. Includes shared lesson plans, activities, interactive learning. See their pedagogic collection.


 Open Access Communities

 Business Ventures Using Creative Commons


·         Academic Earth

Academic Earth is a platform built on open courses, showcasing video lectures from the world’s top scholars. Viewer grading of courses.

·         Bloomsbury Academic

Bloomsbury Academic will print short runs, print on demand, and make titles available online via Creative Commons license. First title will be Larry Lessig's Remix.

·         Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge offers textbooks online for free and for sale. Faculty can integrate into their course management systems. As a by-product, they will sell things of value to their market: more convenient ways to consume the free book and study aids.

·         Lulu

Lul enables self publishing thus reducing pricing. Many of its authors (not all) license as Creative Commons.








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 Rockhurst University Library · 1100 Rockhurst Road · Kansas City, MO 64110 · 816-501-4116