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Creative Commons Licences in Detail

Learn more about Creative Commons Licences: What it is and how to use them.
Five Reasons for Using Creative Commons Licences
© This work by Jessika Rücknagel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

A central aspect of the open access concept is the re-use of published works. Open content licences are often used for a transparent label of the re-use and editing options allowed by the author without having to ask them for permission. A well-known option are the Creative Commons licences. Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that started in 2002.

The licences can be used for any creative and scholarly work and are standardised and internationally recognized. Of particular importance is the underlying 3 layer concept of the Creative Commons licences. These 3 layers have different purposes to ensure that the licences are machine-readable, easy to understand in non-juristic language and legally binding. This structure facilitates their use in digital environments in particular by providing metadata that supports identifying content that is licenced under an open content licence.

How can you ensure that your work is published under a Creative Commons licence? Basically you can include the licence of your choice into a copyrighted work you created or to a work you hold the necessary rights to in order to put it into effect. By this you give others the permission to use your work according to the terms defined by the Creative Commons licence you choose. You retain the copyright to your work and can grant further rights of use at any time. If you have granted an exclusive right of use to a publisher, you cannot publish this work under a creative commons licence yourself, however the rightsholder could apply a creative commons licence to your work instead. This is usually done by adding a visual symbol of the licence, a reference to it and a link to the licence definition. Creative Commons offers 6 licensing options with varying permissions that are granted, and an option to waive copyright completely, even though this is not possible in every jurisdiction. If anyone violates the licence’s terms you will be able to take legal action against that breach. As a consequence, your interests as author are legally protected while the use of your work is simplified. Once applied to a work the Creative Commons licence cannot be revoked, so consider carefully under which terms you would like that your work to be used.

© This work by Jessika Rücknagel is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
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Openness in Science and Innovation

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