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Copyright guidance: Creative Commons

Assistance with matters relating to copyright for Edinburgh Napier University staff and students

What is Creative Commons?

If you want to re-use content from the internet, you need to be very sure about what you are allowed to do with it.  Sometimes it is hard to be sure what is OK.

If you are creating material yourself to publish on the internet, you will automatically be protected by standard copyright law. However, you may want to permit other people to use your material freely, you may want to permit certain uses but restrict others. or you may just want to be acknowledged for your work.

Creative aims to help you share your knowledge and creativity with the world.  It's also a great way to find material you can use freely yourself.

  • There are six different levels of Creative Commons license available, depending on what uses the creator wants to permit.
  • The Creative Commons website helps you choose which option you would like, and creates a license showing the CC symbols appropriate to your choice
  • The most permissive choices are flagged up as being approved for "free cultural works".  This means they are the ones that can be most readily used, shared, and remixed by others, and go furthest toward creating a commons of freely reusable materials. They will also give you less protection of your rights, of course.

The box below shows the CC symbols that are combined in the licenses.

CC symbols


Creative Commons Attribution


          Attribution      BY

  • Acknowledgement of Creator must be included.
Creative Commons non-commercial

          Non-Commercial  NC

  • No commercial uses of the material permitted

Creative commons no derivatives


        No Derivatives     ND

  • The content may not be changed after downloading.
Creative Commons share alike

         Share Alike    SA

  • New instances of content built on the original element must carry the same licence.

       Free Cultural Works

  • Used as an indicator that you have chosen a permissive license

       Not Free Cultural Works

  • Indicates that the license you have chosen is a more restrictive one

        No rights reserved   CC0 

  • Care needed - be sure you really want this before you choose it


The CopyCats say....

Copycat tigers

Be careful when you decide whether to share your digital creations!  

If you make no restrictions you could regret it if you want to use the material later.  You might not be in any position to object if others make big changes to your work, or exploit it for money-making purposes.