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Creative Commons for Open Projects: Add a CC License to Your Work


Creative Commons licenses can be used by any creator to indicate exactly how their work can be used, adapted, and shared by others. As you decide which license to apply to your work, consider:

  • What are your goals in making your work openly available with a CC license?
  • What specifically do you want other scholars and the public to be able to do with your work?
  • Remember that regardless of which CC license you choose, you retain your copyrights. You are simply making sharing, reuse, and adaptation easier for others.
  • The less restrictive your license, the more your work can be integrated into open environments, the more options others will have to build on your work, and the greater impact your work will have. Your contribution to shared culture and knowledge matters! The below visual shows CC licenses that offer the least freedom to the most freedom for users. In order, the licenses that offer most freedom to least are: CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-ND

diagram of CC licenses from least to most freedom









Adapted from untitled chart in "Creating and Sharing OER" in Creative Commons Certificate for Educators, Academic Librarians and GLAM by Creative Commons

Choosing a license

Review the licenses on the Creative Commons Licenses page of this guide (or read more on the Creative Commons website). Make your choice - it is up to you!

Creative Commons has a License Chooser tool to take you through the features of each license. The chooser is useful whether you are undecided and need more information, or you know what you want to do and want to make indicating your license as easy as possible.

With the Chooser, you have the option of generating a machine-readable license with attribution and icon that you can copy into your online platforms. This is a feature worth using every time you assign a CC license because it takes care of formatting and licensing language for you.

Applying a license

To apply a Creative Commons license to your work, all you need to do is indicate the license in some way. Ideally however, your license indication should include:

  • the icon for the CC license (with a hyperlink to the license, if possible)
  • the title of the work (with a hyperlink to the work, if possible)
  • "by" the name (or handle) that identifies you as the creator (with a hyperlink to your profile, if available)
  • "is licensed under..." the specific license with a hyperlink to the full Creative Commons license text

An example is the license applied to this guide:

Creative Commons for Open Projects” by Denise Hattwig is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Note that you do not need to contact Creative Commons or register your participation in any other way. This is the ease of Creative Common licenses! They can be used by anyone anywhere, by merely indicating the license. No other legal maneuvers or communications are necessary. Remember that the easiest way to generate your CC license is to use the License Chooser.

Guide Credit and License

"Creative Commons for Open Projects" by Denise Hattwig (2023) is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.