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Creative Commons and Other Open Licensing

Information about Creative Commons, open data, and open software licenses.

WashU Research Data Repository

If you deposit your work into the WashU Research Data Repository, you have the option to choose an open license. By assigning a license to your deposited work, you are letting others know what they are allowed to do with your content and under what conditions. You may choose to assign a broad license that allows anyone to do whatever they like with your data, or you may assign a more narrow license that restricts their use to non-commercial activities and prevents the distribution of derivative works.

Data documentation and other considerations for preparing to share are listed on the Digital Research Data Sharing at WashU guide. For additional information about WashU Research Data, please visit the repository FAQ page.


Formatting Changes

Note that all CC licenses allow the user to exercise the rights permitted under the license in any format or medium. Those changes are not considered adaptations even if applicable law would suggest otherwise. For example, you may redistribute a book that uses the CC BY-NC-ND license in print form when it was originally distributed online, even if you have had to make formatting changes to do so, as long as you do so in compliance with the other terms of the license.

Unauthorized Use

If someone applies a Creative Commons license to your work without your knowledge or authorization, you should contact that person and tell them to remove the license from your work. You may also wish to contact a lawyer. Creative Commons is not a law firm and cannot represent you or give you legal advice, but there are lawyers who have identified themselves as interested in representing people in CC-related matters.

Licenses Evolve 

The Creative Commons licenses have changed over the years; the current version of the licenses is 4.0, but previous versions have had slightly different details. If you see a number lower than 4.0, there might be some differences in what users can do with an older license. Creators who want to share a new work with a Creative Commons license should check to see if there are any changes to the license provisions. This will help make sure the licenses line up with the creator's goals in sharing. 

A Note about Rights Statements

There is another set of labels that describe information about the copyrights in works in museum and library collections, called "Rights Statements". They look like Creative Commons licenses, but they are not legal tools and do not change how people can legally use the work. They are just helpful ways of sharing more information about copyrights.

A Note about Traditional Knowledge (TK) Licenses

Inspired by CC licenses, TK Licenses are a set of licenses that address the diversity of Indigenous needs in relation to intellectual property. Due to the concern around negotiating and managing cultural heritage material where Indigenous individuals or communities did not hold the copyright, Labels and Notices were developed as an extra-legal, educative metadata strategy.