Get information on Intellectual property, copyright for publications and research data, and Creative Commons for open access publishing.

4. Licences and Creative Commons

As the copyright owner, you can choose to attach a licence to your work to allow others to use it, while protecting your rights.

What is a licence?

A licence provides “permission to use intellectual property in a way that would otherwise be a breach of the owner’s statutory rights” (Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary). Typically, a licence covers:

  • exclusivity — an exclusive licence means only the licensee is allowed to use the work
  • duration — how long the material can be used
  • purpose — what kinds of things can be done with the item (i.e. is the use for personal or commercial reasons)
  • restricted uses — outlines restrictions on the use of the item (e.g. using an image with a model in such a way as would bring them into disrepute)
  • attribution requirements — the way in which the creator is credited.

Creative Commons

A public copyright licence, or public licence, is open to the public at large and is non-exclusive (i.e. it is available to more than one person at a time).

Creative Commons (CC) has popularised the use of public copyright licences. Their licences are built by using a combination of four main conditions.

Icon Icon meaning Description

BY (Attribution)
You must properly credit the creator of the work
NC (NonCommercial) You may not use this work for commercial purposes
ND (No Derivative Works) You may not modify this work
SA (Share Alike) If you remix, transform or modify the work, you must distribute it under the original licence

As the copyright owner, you can select the type of licence that best suits your needs. Know your rights: Understanding CC licences shows a comparison of the different types of licences.

What content is covered?

A CC licence covers any content that you are the copyright owner of including original written, photographic and artistic content that you have created and which you control the rights to.  If you have previously had the content published elsewhere, or entered into any type of assignment or licensing agreement, it is likely you do not control the relevant rights.

Open access

Open access relies on the consent of copyright holders to share their work. However, making material open access will not deprive copyright holders of any rights.  The Copyright and Creative Commons section of Open Access explains the benefits and how to assign a CC licence.