7 CC License Conditions

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe the combinable conditions of a CC license


There are six different Creative Commons (CC) licenses that are useful combinations of conditions, all including the primary condition of Attribution. Understanding the meaning of each condition can be useful when deciding which CC license to use.

CC license conditions in short form are pronounced:

  • BY (bye)
  • SA (es-say)
  • NC (en-see)
  • ND (en-dee)

Attribution (BY)

CC Attribution logoThe Attribution (BY) condition is fundamental to all CC licenses. What many creators care about most is receiving credit for their creative work, and so when reusing CC-licensed work, proper attribution must be given to the original creator — and to other contributors on the work, if any.

Share-Alike (SA)

CC Share Alike logoThe Share-Alike condition adds a requirement for anyone reusing your work to also license their own creation (based on your work) under the same license. Both the CC BY-SA and CC BY-NC-SA licenses include this condition, effectively making them ‘copyleft’ or ‘viral’ licenses. While this condition effectively “locks open” the content, remixing SA content with non-SA or other-SA licensed work may not be straightforward or allowed at all.

Non-Commercial (NC)

CC NonCommercial licenseThe Non-Commercial condition allows for reuse and sharing, but reserves commercial rights for the creator. The meaning of the NC condition itself and its ability to prevent commercial reuse is not always clear, but the license condition does clearly indicate that commercial reuse rights are not being granted.

Note: CC licenses allow certain kinds of reuse, and do not discriminate against the user.

No-Derivatives (ND)

CC No Derivatives logoThe No-Derivatives condition allows sharing and reuse but only if the content is left unchanged. This presents an issue when searching for OER, as no customization or adaptation is allowed by the license. For this reason, ND content is not considered OER and should be considered for reuse only in situations where no adaptations are needed.

Combining the Conditions

The BY condition is a part of all the licenses, but not all of them work together. For example, the SA and ND conditions do not appear in the same license because there is no reason to include the share-alike condition when no derivatives are being allowed. Together, the conditions form the six CC licenses:

  • CC BY
  • CC BY-SA
  • CC BY-NC
  • CC BY-ND

Knowledge Check


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

UH OER Training Copyright © 2018 by William Meinke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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