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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Selecting a License

This guide is designed to help Minnesota State University Moorhead faculty find, create, evaluate, and incorporate Open Educational Resources and Affordable Textbooks in the classroom and online.


Before deciding which license you want to use for your work, there are a few important things to know:

  • The licenses and CC0 are irrevocable.
    • They cannot be canceled. Once applied to a work, the license applies to the work until the copyright expires. It is very important to carefully consider the options before deciding on a license.
    • Reusers like this aspect of CC licenses because they know the creator cannot arbitrarily pull back the rights granted them.
  • You must own or control copyright in the work.
    • Be mindful about whether or not you own or control the copyright.
    • In many cases, if you create the work in the scope of your employment, you may not own or control the copyright.

The best way to decide which license to use is to think about why you want to share a work and how you hope others will use it. Utilize the Choose a License tool to help you decide.

Some things to consider:

  • Do you think people might make interesting new works out of your creation? Do you want to give people the ability to translate your work into another language? Do you want to give people the ability to otherwise customize your work for their own needs? If yes, you should select a license that allows adaptation.
  • Is it important that your images be able or not be able to be incorporated into Wikipedia? Wikipedia does not allow use of images under any of the NonCommercial or NoDerivatives licenses.
  • Do you want to give away all of your rights to your work so it can be used by anyone for any purpose? Consider the public domain dedication tool (CC0).

Other considerations can be found at the Creative Commons Wiki.

You have selected the license you want to use for your work. Now how do you apply it?

Technically, all you have to do it indicate which CC license you are applying to your work but it is highly recommended that you include a link to the relevant license deed. When you use the Choose a License tool, you can fill in proper attribution information then copy the license image, attribution text, and machine readable code for your work. Add the license deed to help those who view and reuse your work.

For links to the license deeds, see below:

Attribution license or “CC BY”

Attribution-ShareAlike license or “CC BY-SA”

Attribution-NonCommercial license or “CC BY-NC”

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license or “CC BY-NC-SA”

Attribution-NoDerivatives license or “CC BY-ND”

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license or “CC BY-NC-ND”

Marking Your Own Work
When marking your own work with a CC license, the best practice is to follow the TASL approach:

  • T = Title
  • A = Author (tell users who to give credit to)
  • S = Source (give users the link to the resource)
  • L = License (link to the CC license deed)

If you do not have all of the TASL information, do the best you can and include as much information as possible.

When Indicating the Work is Based on Someone Else's Work

If your work is a modification or adaptation, note that and provide attribution to the original work's creator. A good option is"

"This work, "[title]," is a derivative of "[title]" by "[creator]," used under CC [license]. "[title]" is licensed under CC [license] by [name]."


Bottom Line: In any case, the point is to make it easy for people to know who created what parts of the work and how each part can be used.