Universität Bonn

Open Access Service Center


"Open access" does not just imply that publications are freely accessible—it also means that they can be reused by other people. Licenses should be used to determine how this can be done. One well-known license model is illustrated below.

Creative Commons (CC)

As the originator of a piece of work, you are free to decide how you want to publish it. Creative Commons licenses are frequently used for open-access digital publications. These are a set of predefined licenses that perform various functions.

Your choice of license allows you to decide who can reuse your work and how. The fewer restrictions the license imposes, the freer your research will be to access. Policymakers also favor licenses with as few restrictions as possible. Other forms of open-content license exist too, such as the GNU initiative's Free Documentation License.

Infografik zur Auswahl der CC-Lizenz
© CC BY SA 3.0, OERinfo, Barbara Klute and Jöran Muuß-Merholz

What is recommended?

  • The CC-BY license is recommended by those in charge of research policy, including both the German Rectors' Conference and the German Council of Science and Humanities.
  • There is no consensus over what type of use is actually excluded by licenses with a "non-commercial" (NC) element.
  • The DFG only permits the use of CC licenses without a NC element in its open-access grant program.
Logo Creative Commons
© Creative Commons

CC BY 4.0, UG Library, "What are Creative Commons Licenses?"

How you should use CC licenses

CC licenses are made up of four elements that can be combined to suit the intended use:

  • BY – by attribution: the name of the author is stated and, insofar as is technically possible, a hyperlink to the source material and the CC license is added.
  • ND – no derivatives: the work may be edited but the edited version must not be shared.
  • SA – share alike: the work may be edited but the edited version may only be shared under the same license.
  • NC – non-commercial: reuse is only permitted for non-commercial purposes.

Did you know that…

… Creative Commons licenses are not just a good idea for open-access publications? They can also be granted for images, videos, entire websites and much more. This means that, for instance, you can create educational materials as open educational resources (OER) as part of your teaching and give them an open license.

Wird geladen