Once you find a resource, how to use it

Once you’ve located an Open Education Resource, this could be anything from a lesson plan, to a presentation, a piece of music, you name it, check the licence to see if there are any restrictions around using the resource to create something new.

As long as you follow any restrictions placed by the licence you can use the resource for any purpose.

CC BY Logo CC BY, Creative Commons Attribution

A resource licensed CC BY means you can re-distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the resource, even commercially, as long as you credit the original author.
CC BY-SA logo CC BY-SA, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

A resource licensed CC BY-SA means you can remix, tweak, and build upon the resource even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Any re-distribution of a resource that you create from this one will need to carry the same licence.
CC BY-ND logo CC BY-ND, Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives

A resource licensed CC BY-ND means you can re-distribute, for commercial and non-commercial purposes, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original author.
CC BY-NC logo CC BY-NC, Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial

A resource licensed CC BY-NC means you can remix, tweak, and build upon your work so long as it is used for non-commercial purposes. However, although the new work must also acknowledge the author and be non-commercial, you don’t have to licence a derivative work on the same terms.
CC0, Creative Commons Zero

A resource licensed CC0 means that the rights holder has waived all rights and placed the work in the Public Domain. This means the resource can be used for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without the need for attribution.

What attribution information do I need?

A good rule of thumb is to use the acronym TASL, which stands for Title, Author, Source, Licence:

Title – What is the name of the material?

Author – Who created the material?

Source – Where did you find the material? / Where can someone else find the material?

Licence – How can the material be used?

Lastly, is there anything else you should know before using the material? E.g. When was it created, is the content accurate, is the source reliable?

Make sure you get the attribution right

Here are three attributions for an image provided by Creative Commons:

Picture of a circular glass pate on a green table. The plate is covered in multiple cupcakes, each cupcake has a decoration with the letters CC inside a black circle.

Attribution A)

Creative Commons 10th Birthday​ Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is​ licensed under CC BY 4.0

Good –  This attribution includes the full name of the photo with a hyperlink through to the image source, the name of the author with a hyperlink to the author’s page, and the CC licence that has been applied to the photo with a hyperlink through to the licence details.

We could improve this by also including the platform where the image was hosted so that if the attribution was provided on a resource not connected to the internet, the image could be found by someone wanting to look it up.

E.g. “Creative Commons 10th Birthday​ Celebration San Francisco” by tvol on Flickr is​ licensed under CC BY 4.0​


Attribution B) Photo by tvol  / CC BY

Average – This attribution has included the author name and the licence with hyperlinks, but has not named the photo to provide context or provided the full name of the licence.


Attribution C) 

Photo: Creative Commons

Incorrect – Does ‘Creative Commons’ refer to the name of the photo? The content? The creator? We don’t know. This attribution provides no useful information in order to trace back the author of the photo, nor has it provided any licensing details. We don’t know where it came from or whether it is licensed for re-use.


If you are unsure whether or not you are correctly attributing works on a CC licence the Creative Commons Wiki provides detailed information on how to correctly attribute resources for a variety of licences: https://wiki.creativecommons.org/Best_practices_for_attribution


The information on this page is also available as a PDF: Once you find an OER how to use it (PDF 123kb)