Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons licensing is at the heart of the OER movement. CC allows creators to specify more flexible forms of copyright that allows "others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work."

Look for copyright information (often at the bottom of web pages). Creative Commons licensed materials usually display clickable icons that indicate the specifics of licensing. Examples:

Creative Commons License  Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License  Creative Commons License

See the Creative Commons website or the Tomlinson Library Copyright & Creative Commons page for more info and to acquire license icons.

Creative Commons for CMU Materials

Have you created works while working at CMU that you would like to license with a Creative Commons license? The first thing you must do is consult your contract to determine if you or the University owns the copyright to your work.  If the University owns the copyright, you may need to fill out a form to allow the University to keep track of the license status of the copyrighted material it owns.

Fair use

In general, Copyright Law prohibits reproducing and distributing copyrighted works. However, the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship. In determining whether the use made of a work in a particular case is a Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use raises almost as many questions as it answers, and can be a persistent source of concern for teachers.  The most important point to remember is that Fair Use is both a right and a privilege, and does provide a substantial degree of freedom and protection for teachers. However, that freedom is often challenged, and in reality most educational institutions do not have the resources, skill, or will to engage in long and expensive legal battles over this issue. 

The Fair Use Checklist can be helpful in determining whether or not usage falls under fair use.

See CMU's Copyright & Creative Commons page for more information.