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Copyright for teaching staff

Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (CC) is a standardised system for licensing the use of copyright materials. It is a copyright-based system of licences or "permissions."

Depending on the permissions the licenser allows, the licensee can copy, publish in digital form, publicly perform whether all or a substantial part of it, on specified baseline rights:

  • Attribute (acknowledge) the authorship
  • Not alter terms of licence unless you obtain permission from the creator to override any restrictions
  • Link to licence from copies of work
  • Not use technology (digital rights management), to restrict other licensees' uses of work.
Using Creative Commons


You see a photograph, cartoon, video clip, textual document or other work under a Creative Commons licence and wish to use it. What can you do?

The most basic licence allows you to copy, distribute, display, perform, edit, remix and build upon the work for commercial or non commercial purposes, provided you attribute the creator, additional creators and link to the source

Often, however, a CC licence will have one or more additional elements which carry further licensing terms:

Symbol    Abbreviation Licensing terms
Non Commercial

NC -Non Commercial

For non-commercial purposes only
No Derivatives ND - No Derivatives You can only redistribute verbatim (in whole and unchanged) copies of the work

Share Alike

SA - Share Alike If you edit, remix or build upon the work, you need to license the new creation under the identical terms

Example: Look at the Creative Commons Licence logo underneath the "CC Symbol" photograph in the "What is Creative Commons" box.  The BY and SA symbols means you can copy, remix, adapt and build on the work as Jo has done, provided you distribute it under the same licence term like she has.

This text is a derivative from Creative Commons - About the Licenses webpage by Creative Commons / CC BY 3.0.

Attributing Creative Commons

The same principles apply to providing attribution across all CC licences. You should:

  • Credit the creator
  • State the title of work
  • Provide the url where the work is hosted
  • State the type of licence it is available under and provide a link to the licence so others can find the licence terms
  • Keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work.

Do I have to attribute the work in a particular style? No. There is flexibility in the way that you convey this information. There are plenty of examples throughout this Creative Commons guide on how to attribute CC material, for instance, the images on the left hand side.

What if I am attributing offline? Where your reuse is offline, such as in a printed assignment, book or as part of an exhibition, you should apply the same principles. Since you cannot link, spell out the licence type and any urls in full.

What if I cannot find all of the details? You do not have to include any information that you cannot find. However, you should try to locate the relevant information for the material you are planning on using. If you need help, contact a librarian.

How do I attribute a work I've adapted? If you remix the work in any way, for example, by cropping it, adjusting brightness or replacing words, you have created a 'derivative work' of the original. A simple way to attribute the original work is "This work is a derivative of..." and attribute the work as you normally would. If your derivative work involves more than one original works, you could state "This work includes material from the following..." and list each original work, preferably stating the order you are listing them in (such as sequentially).

This text is a derivative from Attributing Creative Commons Materials factsheet by Creative Commons Australia & the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation / CC BY 2.5. 

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.