What are open access licenses?

What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons licenses are useful for authors wishing to make their works or services available to the public in a (more or less) open system.

They represent a mid-point between the "all rights reserved" of copyright and the "no right reserved" of the public domain, entailing instead "some rights reserved". All rights not expressly granted by the license are reserved.

Despite the extent of the terms of the license, the licensor (who may be the author or a third-party rights holder) reserves the right to disseminate the work under different conditions than those of the general license, or they may withdraw it at any time. The Creative Commons movement seeks to return sovereignty over their work to the author.

The conditions that may be applied to a work are as shown below, and they may be combined as is most convenient:


  • Attribution: this allows the work to be copied, distributed and communicated to the public with the condition of naming the author in the credits. It must feature in all Creative Commons licenses as it is in line with the moral right of recognition of authorship of the work.

  • Non-commercial: this allows the work to be copied, distributed and communicated to the public, providing no commercial uses are made of it. For commercial uses, the express authorization of the rights holder is required.

  • No derivative works: this allows only exact (unaltered) copies of the work to be copied, distributed and communicated to the public. It does not authorize derivative works.

  • Share alike: this allows derivative works (transformation) to be made and their distribution or subsequent communication to the public, as long as this is done under an identical license to the one held by the original work.

It should be borne in mind that there is one combination that is not possible: a Creative Commons license cannot be created with the "No derivative works" and "Share alike" conditions, as the latter condition was designed to communicate derivative works.

The least restrictive license, the Creative Commons BY (Attribution), authorizes the reproduction, distribution, transformation and public communication of the work, for any purpose and for all usage types, free of charge and for the entire period of protection. From here, the more conditions that are added, the more restrictive the license, as fewer uses may be made of the work. The fewer the conditions, the freer the work is, as the capacity to act on the work will be more extensive.

The UOC is committed to returning to society the knowledge that this society possesses and has obtained thanks to the University. For this reason, all teaching materials commissioned by the UOC are finally published with Creative Commons licenses, version 3.0.

In November 2013, Creative Commons published version 4.0, which is different from the previous versions in that it is international in nature, ie this version has not been adapted to the internal legislations of each country. Consequently, and to avoid possible legal implications, the license used by the UOC will continue to be version 3.0.

What types of Creative Commons license are there?

The following are the six combinations developed by Creative Commons:

  • Attribution–NonCommercial–NoDerivs cc_icon_noderivs.gif[1].gifcc_icon_noncomm.gif[1].gifimagesCABPD1TL.jpg
  • Attribution–NonCommercial–ShareAlike cc_icon_noncomm.gif[1].gifcc_icon_sharealike.gif[1].gifimagesCABPD1TL.jpg
  • Attribution–NonCommercial imagesCABPD1TL.jpgcc_icon_noncomm.gif[1].gif
  • Attribution–ShareAlike imagesCABPD1TL.jpgcc_icon_sharealike.gif[1].gif
  • Attribution–NoDerivs imagesCABPD1TL.jpgcc_icon_noderivs.gif[1].gif
  • Attribution imagesCABPD1TL.jpg

Who gives permission to use a work with a Creative Commons license?

Creative Commons licenses were designed so that they could be used by any person who has usage rights on the work, ie the creator or author if they have not assigned them to a third person.

The licenses are offered free of charge and it is not necessary for the creators or rights holders to register in any way to apply a license to a work.

How is the license correctly added to a work?

To publish one's own work with a Creative Commons license, it is simply necessary to indicate the specific Creative Commons license symbol in the document. These symbols can be found on the Creative Commons website and are free of charge.

If the specific license with which the work is to be published is known, all the necessary information about the licenses can be found here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/?lang=en.

If, by contrast, it is not exactly known which combination is of most interest, this link can be visited, which acts as a guide until the most suitable combination for one's own needs have been found: http://creativecommons.org/choose/?lang=en.

What are GNU licenses?

GNU licenses are free software licenses with which authors have a tool that will enable them to authorize the free execution of their programs.

There are various GNU licenses, most notably the GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL or Lesser GPL).

GNU General Public License (GPL)

This is a type of software license that permits the copying, distribution (commercial or otherwise) and modification of the source code, providing that any modification continues to be distributed under the same license.

It is a license that is used more in the area of software and ensures the end users the freedom to use, study, share (copy) and modify the software.

Its aim is to declare that the software covered by the license is free software and to protect it from attempts at appropriation that restrict these freedoms to users.

GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)

The GNU LGPL license (formerly known as the GNU Library General Public License) allows the freedom to share and modify the software to be guaranteed, ensuring that the software is free for all its users.

It permits the same as the GNU, but the main difference with the GPL license is that the LGPL can be linked to a non-GLP program, which may be free software or non-free software.