Skip to Main Content

OER: Attribution and Creative Commons

Creative Commons Overview

Creative Commons provides creators with a way to manage the copyright permissions of their works, usually with the specific purpose of allowing the reuse and sharing of their material.  Having a Creative Commons license attached to a work signals to others that specific permissions are granted. CC licenses may be applied to any type of work, including educational resources, music, photographs, databases, government and public sector information, and many other types of material.

For information about licensing a work using Creative Commons, check out this page

Learn more about Creative Commons and OER. 

Creative Commons Video

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons licensing is at the heart of the OER movement. CC allows creators to specify more flexible forms of copyright that allows "others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work."

Look for copyright information (often at the bottom of webpages). Creative Commons licensed material sometimes display clickable icons that indicate the specifics of licensing. Examples:

Creative Commons License  Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License  Creative Commons License

See the Creative Commons website for more info and to acquire license icons.

RHC Board Policy RE: Intellectual Property and Copyright

Finding Creative Commons Licensed Works

There are plenty of tools online to help you find Creative Commons resources.

Creative Commons offers a "CC Search" tool to assist you with identifying resources that have a Creative Commons license.

Google and Bing both have filters when searching for images in their advanced search options that let you limit results to Creative Commons resources.

Unsplash is also a collection of free, high-resolution photos. YouTube also has a filter for Creative Commons videos.

Attribution of OER Materials

One of the big components of utilizing OER is attribution.  Attribution is very much like citing references -- it is providing credit to the creator of the OER that you are using.  In order to provide correct attribution, you may have to list Creative Commons information, as well as the creator's information.  Throughout this LibGuide, you can find many examples of attribution.


Creative Commons: On this page, you will find out how to provide correct attributions when utilizing resources licensed through Creative Commons.

Attributing OER : How to attribute a Creative Commons licensed work? Where should you place attribution?

Attribution Statements for remixed OER content : Basic statements for digital and print OER

Attribution Tool : Just like a citation generator, this tool from Open Washington helps you format attributions for any OER you utilize (Open Attribution Builder is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Managed by WA SBCTC). 

What is Copyright?

Check out this research guide, from the University of South Florida Library, for more info about:

  • Copyright Basics
  • Fair Use
  • Requesting Permissions
  • Patents and Trademarks
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • and more...


Fair Use

In general, Copyright Law prohibits reproducing and distributing copyrighted works. However, the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship. In determining whether the use made of a work in a particular case is a Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use raises almost as many questions as it answers, and can be a persistent source of concern for teachers.  The most important point to remember is that Fair Use is both a right and a privilege, and does provide a substantial degree of freedom and protection for teachers. However, that freedom is often challenged, and in reality most educational institutions do not have the resources, skill, or will to engage in long and expensive legal battles over this issue. 

The Fair Use Checklist can be helpful in determining whether or not usage falls under fair use.

Adapted from Lane Community College's Fair Use and Copyright guide.

ASCCC OERI Resources

The ASCCC OERI website contains a wealth of resources for California Community College OER developers and users. The following pages contain information about OER attributions and licensing:

Webinars & Events (includes information about upcoming ASCCC OER webinars and events, and an extensive archive of recorded webinars)