Choose your Creative Commons license



This course presumes a basic working knowledge of open licenses including:

If you would like to improve your knowledge on OER and open licensing, we recommend that you enrol for the next offering of the OERu’s Open Content Licensing for Educators course. However, the course materials on Creative Commons are openly available for self-study and you can test your knowledge on the compatibility of different license types by playing the remix game.

Choose your genre of some rights reserved

Searching for open access and OER materials for reuse and adaptation in course development is not as simple as finding materials which are published with a Creative Commons license. There are a number of considerations.

We recommend that course developers decide which license they would prefer to use for release of their OER courses before searching for content to reuse and remix. This will simplify your search for resources. Remember that the legal requirements of some Creative Commons licenses may:

  • Necessitate the use of a different license from the preferred license chosen by the author. For example, an author wanting to publish their course under a CC BY license would need to change to a CC BY-SA license if any CC BY-SA materials are included in the remix.
  • Not be compatible with the licensing requirements of community hosted sites. For example, an author choosing to publish course materials under a CC BY-SA license on WikiEducator would not be able to incorporate CC BY-NC-SA materials.

When developing on WikiEducator, you may only use content licensed under a CC BY or CC BY-SA license or resources which are dedicated to the public domain. Consequently when searching for OER materials for reuse and adaptation, your search should be restricted to CC BY or CC BY-SA materials.

The taster quiz below illustrates additional considerations and highlights a few of the complexities associated with remix.


A taster quiz

Choose the most correct option

  • A course designer is developing a course which will be published under a CC BY-SA license. He wants to embed a CC BY-NC-SA image unaltered in the course materials which will be properly attributed. Can this be done?
    • I think so.
      • Correct, this is legally permissible but the two licenses are not compatible for remix of all types of resources. Assuming the image is unaltered and properly attributed in the materials, the general view is that this would be legally permissible because the image can be clearly identified as a discrete object. However, it would not be possible to remix CC BY-SA and CC BY-NC-SA materials, for example text, because the ShareAlike provision requires that the derivative work is licensed under the identical license as the source materials. It is also important to note that the values and policies of community projects like WikiEducator, Wikibooks and Wikiversity only permit the use of free cultural works approved licenses (i.e. CC BY-SA and CC BY) and would not allow a CC BY-NC-SA image to be hosted on their respective project websites.
    • I don’t think so.
      • Almost correct. Under normal circumstances it is not possible to remix a CC BY-SA resource with a CC BY-NC-SA resource because the ShareAlike provision requires that the derivative work must be released under the identical license. However, if the image is unaltered, properly attributed and clearly identifiable as a discrete object under a different license, general opinion is that this is legally permissible. Remember that the terms of reference, policies or values of community hosted sites may not permit the hosting of CC BY-NC-SA artefacts.
  • An academic is developing OER learning materials on WikiEducator which requires all materials to be released under Free Cultural Works approved licenses. She wants to embed a YouTube video published under the Standard YouTube license. Can this be done?
    • I think so.
      • Almost correct. Technically it is possible to embed YouTube videos on WikiEducator, and the Standard YouTube license, although a custom all-rights reserved license, does legally permit playback by embedding on third-party websites using the YouTube “embeddable player”. However, the Standard YouTube license is not a free cultural works approved license and therefore cannot be “hosted” on WikiEducator. In addition, the WikiEducator community does not support commercial advertising on the website and there is no reliable way to exclude advertising embedded in YouTube videos. This is why the YouTube template functions as an external link to the YouTube site for playback.
    • I don’t think so.
      • Correct. WikiEducator only hosts content licensed under a Free Cultural Works approved license and the community does not permit commercial advertising on the site which can be embedded in the playback of YouTube videos. When embedding video playback, using the YouTube template, the content is not technically hosted on WikiEducator. However, when repackaging content for offline delivery it would not be legally permissible to download copies of the video for offline playback and therefore the Standard YouTube license does not qualify as OER.
  • An OERu partner institution is developing a course on WikiEducator based on an open textbook using a CC BY-NC-SA license. Can this be done?
    • I think so.
      • Correct. The course can link to a third party website which hosts the CC BY-NC-SA textbook. However, the OERu course materials guiding and supporting the learners must be licensed under a CC BY or CC BY-SA license.
    • I don’t think so.
      • Incorrect. It is possible in WikiEducator to link to CC BY-NC-SA materials hosted on an external website as well as any open access materials, including all rights reserved content which can be accessed on the Internet. However, bear in mind that this may restrict the flexibility of your course design because you will not be able to make copies of extracts of the materials on WikiEducator beyond the provisions of fair usage or fair dealing.

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Tip: The ShareAlike provision requires that the identical license is used for the derivative work. The Standard YouTube license is a custom all rights reserved license.

Remember, if you are not sure what resources can be legally remixed with each other, consult this summary. In the case of WikiEducator, it’s easy: You may only use CC BY or CC BY-SA licensed materials.


Microblog activity

Copyright, open licensing and remix compatibility can be confusing. If you have any questions requiring further clarification, please share these with the group by posting on WEnotes below, OERu forums or Twitter. Collectively, we will do our best to answer these questions.

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