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Appendix 1: Licences and Tools

Below are descriptions of the public domain tools and Creative Commons (open-copyright) licences used in open textbooks and other open educational resources.

Public domain tools

When copyright, trademark, patents, or other intellectual property (IP) laws expire, the works protected by these laws enter the public domain. Works within the public domain are owned by the public, which means that anyone is allowed to use these works without obtaining permission, but no one can own them.[1] (See Copyright and Open Licences.)

Some creators choose to place or “dedicate” their works to the public domain. For this, Creative Commons has created public domain tools to enable the “labeling and discovery of works that are already free of known copyright restrictions”.[2]

CC0 (CC zero)

The CC0 logo can be used to mark a work indicating that:

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.[3]

This tool is best used for your own work, not those owned by others or currently in the public domain. Think of CC0 as the “no rights reserved” option.[4] Below are two logos that can be used: an icon and a button. Notice that 0 (zero) is the prominent symbol used to indicate that the creator of the work, and thus copyright owner, has removed all restrictions: in other words, there are zero restrictions. For more information, see the Creative Commons CC0 page [New Tab].

A zero inside a circle

CC0 (CC zero) icon

A circle with a zero inside followed by "Public Domain"

CC0 (CC zero) button

Public Domain Mark

The Public Domain Mark should be used to “mark works already free of known copyright and database restrictions and in the public domain throughout the world.”[5] For more information, see the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark page [New Tab].

Below are two logos that can be used to present the Public Domain Mark: an icon and a button. The representative image is a line through the copyright symbol, a C, indicating that copyright no longer applies, and the work is now in the public domain.

A "C" in a circle with a line through it

Public domain mark icon

A "C" in a circle with a line through it, followed by "public domain"

Public domain mark button

Creative Commons licences

Here are the most commonly used Creative Commons licences listed in order of permissions, from most open to least open.

CC BY licence logo

 

CC BY
Attribution (BY) – This licence allows others to distribute, change, remix, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This licence gives anyone using your work the most permissions.
CC BY-SA licence logo CC BY-SA
Attribution (BY) ShareAlike (SA) – This licence allows others to distribute, change, remix, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This licence is often compared to open source software licences. You, and anyone using your new version of this work, must release these adaptations with the same (“share alike”) CC BY-SA licence.
CC BY-NC licence logo CC BY-NC
Attribution (BY) NonCommercial (NC) – This licence allows others to distribute, change, remix, and build upon your work as long as they credit you for the original creation. However, they cannot sell it or profit from it except to recuperate costs of printing, for example. It is a nonprofit licence.
CC BY-NC-SA licence logo CC BY-NC-SA
Attribution (BY) NonCommercial (NC) ShareAlike (SA) – This licence allows others to distribute, change, remix, and build upon your work as long as they credit you for the original creation. However, you cannot sell it or profit from it except to recuperate costs of printing, for example. It is a nonprofit licence. You, and anyone using your new version of this work, must release these adaptations with the same (“share alike”) CC BY-NC-SA licence.
CC BY-ND licence logo CC BY-ND
Attribution (BY) NoDerivatives (ND) – This licence allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you. BCcampus Open Education does not include textbooks that have ND restrictions in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection [New Tab].
CC BY NC ND license logo CC BY-NC-ND
Attribution (BY) NonCommercial (NC) NoDerivatives (ND) – This licence is the most restrictive of the six main Creative Common licences, allowing redistribution. This licence is often called the “free advertising” licence because it allows others to download and share your work with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially. It is a nonprofit licence.

 

You can also watch this video by Creative Commons called “Wanna Work Together?” about open-copyright licences.

Attributions

The “Creative Commons licences” section of this chapter was adapted and remixed from eCampus Ontario’s “Creative Commons Licences Explained”  and is used under a CC BY 4.0 International Licence. eCampus Ontario previously adapted this content from Erik Christensen under a CC BY 3.0 Licence.


  1. Rich Stim, "Welcome to the Public Domain," Copyright and Fair Use: Stanford University Libraries, http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/public-domain/welcome/ (accessed August 2, 2017).
  2. "Public domain," Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/ (accessed August 2, 2017).
  3. "CC0 1.0 Universal(CC0 1.0): Public Domain Dedication," Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ (accessed August 2, 2017).
  4. "CC0 FAQ," Creative Commons, https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/CC0_FAQ#What_is_CC0.3F (accessed January 3, 2018).
  5. "Public Domain Mark," Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/pdm/ (accessed December 13, 2017).

License

Creative Commons License
Appendix 1: Licences and Tools by Lauri Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.