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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Licensing

A guide for FHSU faculty and students to help navigate the world of OERs.

About Creative Commons Licenses

Although there are lots of types of open licenses, open educational resources usually use a Creative Commons License. There are seven types of Creative Commons Licenses, including CC0, which means that no rights are reserved:

List of Creative Commons Licenses


How to Read a Creative Commons License

All Creative Commons Licenses (with the exception of CC0, no rights reserved) include some combination of the following four components. If you know the components, you can read a Creative Commons license!

List of Creative Commons License Components

  • Attribution, abbreviated "BY" and symbolized by a little guy in a circle
  • ShareAlike, abbreviated "SA" and symbolized by a circular arrow
  • NonCommercial, abbreviated "NC" and symbolized by a dollar sign with a slash through it
  • No Derivatives, abbreviated "ND" and symbolized by an equals sign

Creative Commons licenses can be spelled out, abbreviated, or conveyed in symbols. For instance, "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" means the same thing as "CC BY-NC-SA" or .

Creative Commons License FAQ

  • Where do I find the license on an OER?
    • For websites, look near the title or at the bottom of the page
    • For books, look on the verso (back of the title page)
  • How do I provide attribution?
  • How does ShareAlike work?
    • "ShareAlike" means that you can edit or remix the work, but any adaptations have to be posted under the same license as the original work.
  • Are there any licenses that I should avoid?
    • If you want to edit a resource, make sure the license doesn't contain the "no derivatives" component.
  • As an educator, do I need to worry about the "noncommercial" component?
    • In general, using OERs for your course is considered noncommercial. However, it is unclear whether selling printed copies on a cost-recovery basis is "noncommercial," so if you want your students to have a print copy of a resource with this license component, they should probably print it themselves.


The content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 license.