Creative Commons licenses
Important note: The information and links provided here do not represent any form of binding legal advice. They are solely intended to provide an initial basis to help get you on the right track.
What are Creative Commons licenses?
Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that releases pre-formulated copyright licences using a construction-kit approach. Among others, they are used by scientific publishers who run open access programs.
Each condition is represented by an acronym:
- Attribution: BY
- Non-commercial use: NC
- No derivative works: ND
- Share-alike: SA
Mixing and matching these elements results in a total of six commonly used licences as shown in the adjacent figure.
Authors retain copyright – free subsequent use possible
Open Access and License Choice
Only the CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses meet the Open Access definition of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Research funders such as the German Research Foundation (DFG) also recommend the use of open licenses in science (German only).
Non-commercial licenses in science
Non-commercial licenses are often selected by scientists in order to exclude commercial reuse. The boundary between commercial and non-commercial is often very blurred. For this reason, the NC licenses usually do not fulfill the desired purpose. It should be noted that the NC attribute does not protect ideas, facts or inventions. The license only protects the published work itself.
Video tip: Die Non-Commercial-Lizenz in der Wissenschaft (German only)
For authors: Which Creative Commons License am I supposed to choose?
Do Creative Commons licenses particularly encourage plagiarism?
Plagiarism is not encouraged by Creative Commons licenses, because all license models require that the authors are mentioned by name. In the spirit of good scientific practice, third-party publications must not be passed off as one's own work. It is the will of individuals that leads to plagiarism, not the legal framework.
Useful internet links
Amini, S., Blechl, G., & Losehand, J. (2015, October 10). FAQs zu Creative-Commons-Lizenzen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Wissenschaft. (German only)
Creative Commons – FAQ
Klimpel, P. (2013). Free knowledge thanks to creative commons licenses: Why a non-commercial clause often won't serve your needs
Kreutzer, T. (2014). Open content - a practical guide to using creative commons licences. Bonn, Köln, Berlin: German Commission for UNESCO; North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Centre (hbz); Wikimedia Deutschland - Gesellschaft fur Förderung Freien Wissens e.V.
Steinhau, H. ; Pachali, D. (2018). Offen für Kommerz? Bildungsmaterialien und das Problem nicht-kommerzieller Lizenzen (German only)
Contact and individual advice
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail and arrange an individual consultation appointment if required.