University Library

Creative Commons

What are Creative Commons Licenses?

Copyright arises automatically when authors manifest their idea in a creative work. The copyright enables the author to exercise several moral and economic rights. While moral rights can’t be waivered, the economic rights can be transferred to someone else. It’s the author who decides from whom, how and for how long the creative work may be used. This principle is known as “All Rights Reserved”. The only exceptions are laid down in the Copyright Code, so all authors must tolerate them.

Ultimately, everyone other than the author requires the author’s consent when using the creative work in a specific way. This consent can either be granted individually, e.g. upon direct request, or generally in the form of a license.

There are various standardized license agreements. The most established ones are Creative Commons Licenses. The aim of Creative Commons is to offer a range of different licenses with the possibility for the author to grant the public permission to use a creative work under certain conditions.

It’s the author’s decision how extensive the transfer of rights is going to be by choosing between one of the six licenses provided by Creative Commons.

Since 2013 “Version 4 International” of the Creative Commons Licenses has been released. Please note that licensing your creative work using an older version is possible, but not recommended. Above all, the requirements for an effective allocation of the old license versions differ from the information given here!

Which license elements are there?

(Video by: Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand with support from Internet NZ, licensed under CC-BY 3.0 NZ)

There are four license elements.

How to grant a CC license?

You may grant a license of your choice for your publication.

On the part of the university library, we recommend the Open Access compatible CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses. These are also in line with the open access policy of the Eberhardt Karls University of Tübingen.

Please also note that Open Access publications are only funded if articles are licensed under CC-BY and CC-BY or CC-BY-SA for other creative works respectively.

To grant a Creative Commons license for your creative work, you must still be in possession of the corresponding economic rights.

If you have already published your creative work with a publisher, the provisions of your author’s contract are decisive. In the case of a secondary publication, the author’s agreement and the license you wish to grant must be compatible! This applies especially to cumulative dissertations!

It is therefore always advisable to think carefully about what you want to do with your creative work  in the future before the publication and to assign the rights to third parties accordingly.

If you have decided on one of the CC licenses, the license text must be attached to the work for a valid licensing. This is usually done on the back of the title page or in the imprint in the form of a note with a link to the selected license text. It is important that the link does not lead to the licence summary, but to the exact legal license text (see example). If it is not possible to insert a retrievable link due to the technical format, the link must be attached in full written form.

Bsp.: This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.

It is not possible to change the Creative Commons license texts on your own authority. The license agreements are deliberately standard license agreements to guarantee consistent use.

Please keep in mind that a CC license cannot be modified or effectively revoked afterwards.

What are the advantages of granting a CC license?

  • Subsequent use clearly regulated
  • Great range
  • Faster circulation than traditional licenses
  • Simple, uncomplicated access to information
  • No in-depth legal knowledge required
  • Promotion of innovations and social solidarity