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Open Access: a guide for researchers

Creative Commons Licenses

A guide for Academics interested in Open Access and identifying how to make their research available via Open Access

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. The CC movement is based on the notion of “some rights reserved”, providing a balance between creators and consumers of intellectual property. The concept allows clear indication of how work may be used, reused and distributed, while ownership remains in the control of authors and copyright owners.

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Key points

  • Publishers and creators of content can use Creative Commons licences to ensure authors get acknowledgement.
  • Readers can easily understand how they can reuse CC-licensed content.
  • CC uses ready-made licences covering creative content, learning materials and open access scholarly publications.
  • CC licences are designed in 3 'layers', with legal language, human-readable text and machine readable code.
  • 'Attribution' is at the heart of all CC lcences: CC licenses require that you attribute the original author(s).

"The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work."

Read about the licences at

Creative Commons licences use simple, standard icons. For example the basic 'Attribution' licence known as CC-BY looks like this:

Content from:

Introduction to Creative Commons Licenses

Guide to Creative Commons for Scholarly Publications & Educational Resources

Creative Commons Copyright Licenses Options

Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.

From the re-user’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question, “What can I do with this work?” 

The Creative Commons License Options:

There are six different license types, listed from most to least permissive here.  

Check with your funder if they require a CC License and if they have a preference.

The MU preference is for:

however there are more restrictive options available. The most restrictive being: 

Creative Commons License Choser Tool

Useful Resources