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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Licensing OER

Licensing Open Educational Resources

Maximizing the use of OERs requires a basic understanding of licensing. Most (but not all) OERs are licensed using Creative Commons licences. This section of the guide will give you an overview of Creative Commons and provide further resources to find out more. 

Creative Commons

There are four main components of Creative Commons (CC) Licenses The symbols below represent these components and can be combined in a variety of ways to make a CC License. 

A small, genderless human icon inside a white circle with a black border. This icon is used to denote the Attribution CC license.

Attribution (BY) Proper attribution must be given to the original creator of the work whenever a portion of their work is reused or adapted. This includes a link to the original work, information about the author, and information about the original work’s license.

An icon of an arrow pointing toward its tail in a circle. The arrow is within a white circle with a black border. This denotes the ShareAlike CC license.

Share-Alike (SA) Iterations of the original work must be made available under the same license terms.

A dollar sign with a line crossing it horizontally. This represents the Noncommercial CC license.

Non-Commercial (NC) The work cannot be sold at a profit or used for commercial means such as for-profit advertising. Copies of the work can be purchased in print and given away or sold at cost.

An equal sign within a white circle with a black border. This represents the No Derivatives CC license.

No Derivatives (ND) The work cannot be altered or “remixed.” Only identical copies of the work can be redistributed without additional permission from the creator.

​Look out for these symbols in the OERs you want to use.  (Sometimes licenses are indicated without symbols but use shorthand such as "CC BY-SA" or "CC BY-NC-ND")

CC-BY Abbey K. Elder

Quick recap and test yourself

The Spectrum of CC Licenses

Shaddim; original CC license symbols by Creative Commons / CC BY (

Shaddim; original CC license symbols by Creative Commons / CC BY (