Creative Commons Licences

Open Access journals have to publish their articles under Creative Commons-licenses, which promote access and re-use of scientific and scholarly research. The presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question, “What can I do with this work?”

Creative Commons (CC) licences aim to make creative works more freely available than is possible through traditional copyright. The idea is that works, such as publications, can be copied and distributed more easily or that others can elaborate on them – this can be hugely beneficial to science. Creative Commons offers various free licences that copyright holders can use to regulate the use and distribution of their work. 

When publishing with an Open Access journal, at some point you will be asked under which CC-licence you would like your article to be published. There are a number of different Creative Commons licences. We believe that the greatest societal good is possible when people are free to re-distribute scholarship and to create derivative works. This is why EUR recommends the CC BY license, under which others may re-use your work, on condition that they cite you. Note that funders can also set requirements when it comes to open licenses.

License designationLicense nameWhat does this mean for you as an author?


AttributionThe most liberal of the CC licences apart from CC0 Public Domain Dedication. This licence allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work – also commercially – provided they credit the author for the original creation and clearly indicate that changes were made to the work, if any.


Similar to CC BY; however, others must licence new creations under identical terms. Therefore, all new works reusing (parts of) such work will need to carry the same licence and any derivatives will also allow commercial use.



This licence allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, provided it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author. ND ('no-derivatives') means that others may not modify your work. This could prevent larger portions from being included in course packs.




With this licence others must not remix, tweak, or build upon the original work for commercial purposes. Although new works must also acknowledge the author and be non-commercial, reusers do not have to licence their derivative works on the same terms. NC ('non-commercial') means that the work may only be used for non-commercial purposes. Please note that this may mean that those within the university cannot re-use your work for teaching.



This licence lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the author’s work non-commercially, provided they credit the author and licence their new creations under the identical terms.


Non-Commercial NoDerivatives
This is the most restrictive of the six licences, only allowing others to download works and share them with others as long as they credit the author, but they cannot change them in any way or use them commercially.

¹ This table is a derivative of Pascal Braak, Hans de Jonge, Giulia Trentacosti, Irene Verhagen, Saskia Woutersen, Guide to Creative Commons for Scholarly Publications and Educational Resources licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

For more information on Creative Commons licenses, read the Guide to Creative Commons for Scholarly Publications and Educational Resources drawn up by the NWO, VSNU and UKB.

Also read:
Does a CC BY license on my publication mean that anyone can reuse my work however they want to?
What are the consequences of choosing a more restrictive CC license for my Open Access publication, such as the CC BY-NC license? 

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