FAQ – Creative Commons

    • What is Creative Commons? What are the CC licences referred to in RCUK, Wellcome/COAF Open Access and other funder policies?

      Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Their copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use creative work — on conditions of the creator’s choice.  For more information – see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/.  The useful JISC OAPEN-UK guide to Creative Commons can also be accessed here.

      The RCUK and Wellcome/Charity Open Access Fund policies currently mandate use of the Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ license (CC-BY) when an Article Processing Charge (APC) is levied for ‘gold’ open access. The CC-BY licence allows others to modify, build upon and/or distribute the licensed work (including for commercial purposes) as long as the original author is credited.

      RCUK policy states that for ‘green route’ open access a CC-BY-NC licence or ‘non-commercial’ equivalent is acceptable. CC-BY-NC-ND is not compliant.

      Gates Foundation requires CC-BY in all cases. The European Commission/Horizon 2020 does not mandate any specific licence but: ‘In all cases, the Commission encourages authors to retain their copyright and grant adequate licences to publishers. Creative Commons offers useful licensing solutions.’

    • If I publish under CC-BY wouldn’t this potentially make commercial and/or malicious re-use/misrepresentation of my work easier?

      When as an author you use a CC-BY Licence (sometimes referred to as a “CC Attribution Licence”), you retain copyright over your work, while allowing others to distribute, remix and build upon it, even in a commercial setting. Any users of your CC-BY licensed work MUST attribute you in any resulting works. CC-BY does not affect your moral rights to the work (regarding “derogatory use” of your work) or your “fair use” rights. Further explanations of these terms are provided below.

      Use of CC-BY makes it clear to your audience that such derivations are permitted without their having to contact you (or the publisher) and ask – this licence aims to foster maximum dissemination of your work. If you choose to licence under CC-BY, it is advisable to provide a short citation statement telling potential users how you would like to be credited (for example, this can be seen in the copyright section of PLOS papers, ‘This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited’). It links to the CC-BY online summary to help users understand their rights and obligations for re-use: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

      The Creative Commons website provides full listings for each of their licences: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ Indeed, Creative Commons make available three listings of each licence: an easy-to-read “summary”, a copy of the full legal code and a machine-readable licence. Their handy Licence Chooser can also help you decide which licence is most appropriate for your work. A useful guide to Creative Commons by JISC & OAPEN-UK which addresses concerns and misunderstandings can also be viewed and downloaded here.

      The following explanations are taken from the Creative Commons listing for the CC-BY Licence.
      1. MORAL RIGHTS: In addition to the right of licensors to request removal of their name from the work when used in a derivative or collective they don’t like, copyright laws in most jurisdictions around the world (with the notable exception of the US except in very limited circumstances) grant creators “moral rights” which may provide some redress if a derivative work represents a “derogatory treatment” of the licensor’s work.
      2. FAIR USE: All jurisdictions allow some limited uses of copyrighted material without permission. CC licenses do not affect the rights of users under those copyright limitations and exceptions, such as fair use and fair dealing where applicable.

    • Where can I find Creative Commons images, sounds, video to reuse?

      See our Creative Commons Licenced Resources page listing some major sources of free images, sounds, video and more.