Creative Commons licences (also referred to as CC licences) can facilitate the copying, reuse, distribution, and in some cases, the modification of the original owner’s creative work without needing to get permission each time from the rights holder.

Embedding creative commons licences into digital resources - SCA briefing paper

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Creative Commons licences (also referred to as CC licences) can facilitate the copying, reuse, distribution, and in some cases, the modification of the original owner’s creative work without needing to get permission each time from the rights holder.

Overview of creative commons licences

Strategic Content Alliance There are a number of different types of these licences. Across the UK’s public sector, CC licences are increasingly used to provide access to cultural heritage and teaching, learning and research outputs. Creative Commons licensed resources are also helpful for public sector bodies who wish to use third party resources which place the least restrictive licensing terms on the user.

This briefing paper accompanies further information on Creative Commons licences (PDF), produced by the Strategic Content Alliance, which demonstrates how the terms of Creative Commons licences can be embedded into a variety of resources, such as PowerPoint, images, Word docs, elearning resources, podcasts and other audio visual resources.

Benefits of embedding CC licences

Embedding CC licences into digital resources can be beneficial for public sector bodies for a number of reasons:

  • It can help the user see that the resource is an 'open' resource and licensed under a specific CC licence terms
  • It can help reduce the future 'orphan works' (works for which the rights holders are unknown or cannot be traced), and assist in creation of appropriate attribution, citation and potential negotiation for further permissions. By embedding the selected CC licence to the licence details even if the resource gets detached from its metadata. This is particularly the case if the resource is found via a search engine instead of the original website platform which might host specific copyright restrictions.

Considerations before embedding CC licences

Before you apply a CC licence to your resource, it is important that you consider any potential legal and/or licensing issues. For instance:

  • You can only apply a CC licence to your resource (or component parts) if you are the creator of all of the materials included in the resource or if you have the express permission of the creator or copyright owner of material. This must include the wish to licence their materials under the CC licence you have selected. In the case of orphan works, you will need to take a risk-managed approach before you decide to make them available under a CC licence
  • It is possible to apply different CC licences to different resources according to the rights and/or permissions that you may have. However, if you choose to do this, you will need to consider the ramifications for your users
  • You will not be able to provide any additional licensing terms which restrict the use of the resource beyond the terms of the CC licence you have selected
  • You will need to decide upon how open you wish your resource to be and then to select the corresponding CC licence. For more information read Overview of the Openness of Licence briefing paper (PDF)
  • You will need to decide whether you choose a ported licence (jurisdiction specific) or unported licence (jurisdiction unspecified). The ported licences, such as used by the Open University Open Learn project have been drafted for compatibility with UK-laws and provide a specified jurisdiction in the cases of disputes (in the UK, the two versions available are UK: England and Wales andUK: Scotland). Ported CC licences, such as the CC licences version 3.0 are beneficial for content creators when working collaboratively with non UK partners or in cases where the required jurisdiction-based licence is not available (i.e. N.Ireland). They are also useful for providing users with the optimum ability to mash data sourced from a variety of places
  • You should consider your current business models and practices before choosing a specific CC Licence to make sure that you can optimise the delivery of your content and where possible use CC Licences to promote your products and services

How to embed CC licences into resources

Embedding a CC licence into a resource will always be a customised solution depending upon the file format and authoring tool of your resource. The following provides basic information about how you might embed a CC licence into a resource.

For websites and web pages
  • Go to the Creative Commons website
  • Choose the specific CC licence that you require and appropriate jurisdiction, and in particular whether you wish to choose a ported licence (jurisdiction specific licence) or unported licence (without a specified jurisdiction)
  • Make sure that your resource contains information about authorship and contact details (such as an email address)
  • Select the licence you have chosen
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and select 'Use this licence for your own work'
  • Embed the html code that is given into your own web site and/or web pages that host your resource/s.
For blogs
For MS Office documents (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
  • Download the plug-in from Microsoft Research
  • Click on the 'Creative Commons' link in FILE
  • Choose the specific CC licence that you require and appropriate jurisdiction, and in particular whether you wish to choose a ported licence (jurisdiction specific licence) or unported licence (without a specified jurisdiction)
  • Make sure that your resource contains information about authorship and contact details (such as an email address)
For podcasts and other audio/visual resources
  • Go to the Creative Commons website
  • Choose the specific CC licence that you require and appropriate jurisdiction, and in particular whether you wish to choose a ported licence (jurisdiction specific licence) or unported licence (without a specified jurisdiction)
  • Make sure that your resource contains information about authorship and contact details (such as an email address)
  • Follow these instructions
  • You can also put the CC licence terms into any text descriptions if you are using Flickr, YouTube etc.
  • Further information about embedding CC licences into photostreams uploaded to Flickr
For RSS Feeds and ATOM
  • Go to the Creative Commons website
  • Choose the specific CC licence that you require and appropriate jurisdiction and in particular whether you wish to choose a ported licence (jurisdiction specific licence) or unported licence (without a specified jurisdiction)
  • Make sure that your resource contains information about authorship and contact details (such as an email address)
  • Follow these instructions

 

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Summary
Author
Naomi Korn, Strategic Content Alliance IPR Consultant
Publication Date
7 March 2011
Publication Type
Topic
Strategic Themes