Skip to Main Content

Copyright for Faculty: Creative Commons

Understanding Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. Instead, they work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs. 


Manchester librarians are not the copyright police, nor are we legal experts in copyright. It is our responsibility to provide resources, but not advice in regards to what you can and cannot do in your courses. Interpretation of copyright law is up to the individual, though Manchester's legal council may be able to provide further assistance.

1. Searching for CC Licensed Images

Use this search tool to locate Creative Commons licensed images (other types of media will be included in the search index in the future).

creative commons search

Alternatively, has a Creative Commons search built into its interface. To access, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to and perform a search for the image of your choosing
  2. From the results list, select the "any license" menu option and choose "all creative commons"

The list of results now shows all images that are usable under Creative Commons licensing. To find the specific license for the image chosen, select the image and click the "some rights reserved" link underneath. This will offer a detailed explanation of the license used by the creator.

2. Understanding the Creative Commons License Agreements

understanding creative commons licenses image

CC0: No Copyright

CC BY: Lets users distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a creative commons licensed work, even commercially, so long as they attribute the creator/author for the original creation.

CC BY-SA: Lets users remix, tweak, and build upon a creative commons licensed work, even for commercial purposes, as long as they attribute their new creations under identical licensing terms.

CC BY-ND: Lets users reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and attribution must be given to the creator/author for the original creation.

CC BY-NC: Lets users remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, and although new works must also acknowledge the original creator/author and be non-commercial, users don't have to license their derivative works under the same terms.

CC BY-NC-SA: Lets users remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, as long as they attribute the original creator/author and license their new creations under identical licensing terms.

CC BY-NC-ND: The most restrictive of the 6 main licenses, this allows users to download a work and share it with others as long as the original creator/author is credited; however a user can't change the work in any way or use it commercially.


For more creative commons licensing information, see their About the Licenses page.

3. License Considerations

If you choose to license your own work under Creative Commons licensing, the following tips and resources may be helpful:

When in doubt, contact for assistance.

4. Get Involved Through PALNI

palsave logo

Creative Commons licensing falls within the realm of open textbooks and open pedagogy. Funderburg Library is a part of a library consortia, PALNI - the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana, which has extensive work towards a PALSave open education initiative. 

To learn more or to get involved, see PALSave's About information here: