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License Your Work

When using an open license, you retain the copyright to your original work but give permission to others to copy and distribute your materials, provided they give you credit — and only on the conditions you specify. Whether you're creating a presentation, video, website, or software there are easy ways to add a license for these different formats.

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Add the License

Once you choose a license, the next step is to display this license on your materials. Doing this ensures that people who use your material know how they can make use of it by easily following the terms specified in your selected license. The best method of showing your license varies by content type. Below are links to best practices for various types of media.

 


Creative Commons Licenses and Copyright

By default, you hold the copyright for any presentation, video, website, or software that you create. You don’t need to register or include a © symbol, copyright happens at the point of creation. Copyright is "all rights reserved," which means if someone wants to download or copy documents or other content from the material, they can’t distribute that content to anyone else without the expressed permission of the copyright holder. Creative Commons licenses allow the copyright holder to change “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” The copyright holder retains copyright, but clearly identifies conditions under which the general public may use the content.


License Options

You will want to choose a license that best fits your needs depending on what type of content you want to share. Which license is best for you? Well, there are some important considerations including whether or not others may profit on your work or if works built off yours should also be shared with the public. Remember that incorporating someone else's work into your own might restrict the license you choose. To learn more about licensing, read the Creative Commons guide to applying CC licenses.

For Presentations, Documents, Multimedia, or Websites

If you want to license media you've created such as a presentation, video, or website, the Open.Michigan team recommends using one of the licenses provided by Creative Commons (CC). There are several CC licenses to choose from, including:

CC BY

Attribution License: Lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work—and derivative works based upon it—but only if they give credit the way you request.

CC BY NC

Attribution – Non-Commercial License: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

CC BY SA

Attribution – Share Alike License: Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

CC BY NC SA

Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share Alike License: Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new materials based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be noncommercial in nature.

For Software

If you are creating software that you would like to make available as Free/Open Source Software, there are a few licenses that Open.Michigan recommends. These licenses are the MIT License, the BSD License, and the GNU General Public License (GPL) or Lesser GPL (LGPL). If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

More Info

For more information about these and other licenses, refer to the CC License FAQ. The Creative Commons also provides an online License Chooser tool to help you select the correct license.