The openness of an OER is often communicated by a Creative Commons licence.

Creative Commons licences act like a permission. When a creator applies one of the six licences on their work, they retain their copyright but allow the public to share, remix, adapt, and reuse the work legally without having to ask permission or pay additional fees, provided that the user complies with the conditions of the licence.

The six CC licences consist of three elements: the CC logo, icons representing a combination of conditions (which can also be represented by two letters – CC BY-SA - or written out in long form – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike), and the version (4.0 International is the most recent).

The six Creative Commons licences are composed the CC logo and a combination of 4 conditions: Attribution (BY), ShareAlike (SA), NonCommercial (NC) and NoDerivatives (ND).

The most open of these licences is CC BY, requiring attribution only. The most restrictive (but still more open than copyright’s “all rights reserved” approach) is CC BY-NC-ND, which requires attribution but does not allow for commercial use and adaptations.

Note: Resources with the ND condition are technically not OER. ND indicates that the user cannot make changes to the original version to incorporate into a new resource. This condition goes against two of the five Rs: revising and remixing. For disciplines with few OER, using non-modifiable resources is still a viable option. If no modifications are made, they can be assigned without having to request additional permission.

Learn more about each CC licence on the Creative Commons website.

The six Creative Commons licences are composed the CC logo and a combination of 4 conditions: Attribution (BY), ShareAlike (SA), NonCommercial (NC) and NoDerivatives (ND).
CC BY (Attribution) CC BY-SA; (Attribution-ShareAlike); CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial); CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivatives); CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike); CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)

In some disciplines, such as computer science, engineering and mathematics, the following software licences are sometimes used: MIT LicenseGNU General Public LicenseApache License

Some OER created with the financial support of eCampusOntario's Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) have an Ontario Commons licence: OCL 1.0 or OCL-ND 1.0. The former is comparable to CC BY-NC while the latter is like CC BY-NC-ND, but with additional restrictions. The main difference is that they apply only to educators and students in the Ontario post-secondary sector. Other users may need permission from the copyright holder. 

Copyright Office at the University of Ottawa

Unless otherwise noted, the content on this page is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

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