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Copyright Quick Reference Guide

This guide provides basic information on copyright law to help you make sense of your copyright questions.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the sharing and reuse of creative works. To this end, they have created a series of licenses that authors can attach to their works to establish rules for how their works can be used and/or shared. All of the licenses require that the creator of the work be attributed, but some of the licenses impose additional requirements:

  1. ShareAlike (SA): You let others to use your work as long as they distribute any derivative works they create from it on the same terms.
  2. NonCommercial (NC): You let others use your work as long as it is not for commercial purposes
  3. NoDerivatives (ND): You let others use your work, but they cannot creative derivative works from it.

You can find more information about Creative Commons licenses and how to share your work with a CC license.

See this discussion of considerations for licensors (those making their work available under a CC license) and licensees (those taking advantage of a work licensed with a CC license). Note that there are possible unintended consequences of using ShareAlike and NonCommercial licenses to license your work:

For how to think about sharing a preprint, see How should I license my work on SocArXiv?

Frequently asked questions

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