What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is an international non-profit organisation whose purpose is to help anyone involved in the production of texts, pictures, film, music and the like to publish their work in a way that makes it more freely accessible to users than copyright work normally is. Creative Commons does this by offering free copyright licences – ’Creative Commons licences’ – under which copyright holders can publish their work. The licences allow copyright holders to regulate the rights and limitations to the use of their work. The idea behind Creative Commons is that copyright holders should be able to say ’Some rights reserved’ in stead of ’All rights reserved.’ Today more than 150 millions works have been published under Creative Commons licences.

Creative Commons and Copyright

The Creative Commons licences are based on the fact that texts, pictures, film and music are protected by copyright law. Thus if you publish your work under one of these licences you keep the copyright to the work but you give advance permission to use of the work in ways that normally are not legal under the Copyright Act. For example, you may decide that others are allowed to adapt your work or allow it to be copied and further distributed. You can also add terms and conditions for use, for example if you want your name cited. The Creative Commons licences have been translated into Danish and adapted to Danish copyright law.

Who Can Use Creative Commons Licences?

Anyone who has produced work which can be protected by copyright can publish it under a Creative Commons licence. Copyright work may be a text, a photograph, a website or a song. You can read more about works protected by copyright in Ophavsret for begyndere, chapter 3 – a beginner´s guide to copyright (available in Danish only).

What You Can Publish Under a Creative Commons Licence

You can publish texts, pictures, film and music which are protected by copyright under a Creative Commons licence. The licences can be used for work published online and work published the conventional way, for example CDs and books.

What You Cannot Publish Under a Creative Commons licence

Texts, pictures, film and music that are not protected by copyright – for example because the copyright has expired – cannot be published under Creative Commons licences. Nor can Creative Commons licences be used for ideas, methods, data material and such because all this cannot be protected by copyright.

Naturally, you can only publish material under a Creative Commons licence if you are the copyright holder yourself.

Getting Started with Creative Commons

If you want to publish something under a Creative Commons licence, go to or where you will find an overview of the various Creative Commons licences. You choose the licence you want to use and follow the easy-to-use guide on how to add the licence to your work.

Pros and Cons of Creative Commons licences

The advantage of publishing work under a Creative Commons licence is primarily that in some cases it becomes faster and easier to make texts, pictures, film and music available and exchange them in a way that is legal. The Creative Commons licences are easy to understand, which enables users to see what they can and cannot do with your work. And copyright holders will not have to go through all the trouble of making individual agreements with users.

The disadvantage of the Creative Commons licences is that they are irrevocable. Once you have published something under a Creative Commons licence, you cannot prevent anyone from using your work as stipulated by the licence.

Another disadvantage is that Creative Commons licences are standardised. They are composed of some very specific basic licences. See detailed overview at or (under Learn about CC).  A license means, for example, that others may use your work for non-commercial purposes as long as they remember to mention your name, and that they are not allowed to build upon or modify your work. However, you cannot use Creative Commons licences in any way that extends beyond the terms and conditions covered by the standardised Creative Commons licences. For example, you cannot specify that your work can be used for educational purposes, or that its use is restricted to Denmark. If you want to publish a work on such conditions, you cannot use Creative Commons licences. You will instead have to make your own licence terms.

If you need help formulating your own licence terms, please contact us via the contact form here at


E-learning and Open Access


What is Open Access?
Open Access is a term used to describe digitised texts or other material published online, for free and without access restrictions. In terms of research, there are generally speaking two models available for Open Access publishing. One is ‘repositories’, which are a kind of online archives for research. Repositories are typically hosted by universities or other research institutions for the purpose of enabling the researchers at the institutions to deposit articles there – either ‘preprints’ or ‘postprints’. Repositories often have no peer review process – and articles deposited into them may concurrently be published in a journal. Another model for Open Access publishing is publishing in Open Access journals. This concept covers online journals, where the only difference from other journals is that there is open access – in other words, that no subscription, registration, fee, or the like is required.

Many Open Access journals have a peer review process for the articles that are published in them.

Open Access and copyright
Open Access material is very often protected by copyright.  The authors of texts published in Open Access repositories and Open Access journals must consent to having their texts published there, and they will retain the copyright themselves. Thus Open Access does not mean that you have totally free access to the texts. The texts are freely available for you to read and quote from, and you are also allowed to download, reproduce and link to them in ways normally prevented by copyright. Note, however, that it is the author him/herself, who through an opencontent licence – for example a Creative Commons licence – determines the degree to which he/she waives his/her rights. Open Access repositories and journals can also contain texts that are in public domain where the copyright has expired.

An educational institution that wishes its staff to publish their works in Open Access usually cannot unilaterally impose the scheme without an agreement with the teachers. It would infringe their copyright.

Contact UBVA for further advice. See contact information at

Who can use Open Access publishing?
Anyone who is an author of something can choose to publish via Open Access channels.

What you can publish with the Open Access model
Today Open Access publishing is mainly used for scientific articles (preprints and postprints), but it can also be used for working papers, dissertations, teaching material, image and sound files, data files etc.

What you cannot publish with the Open Access model?
Open Access publishing only works optimally for digitised material.

Open Access and e-learning
You can use Open Access published material in e-learning without seeking permission.

Pros and Cons of Open Access publishing
The advantage of using Open Access is that it increases the availability of new knowledge, for specialists as well as the general public.  To some extent, it helps society to save money, because the research institutions do not have to pay for access to scientific articles in Open Access.

The disadvantage of Open Access is that when readers do not pay for access to publications, publishers’ main source of income disappears. This calls for finding new ways to make the publications economically viable, and as a result authors may for example sometimes have to pay publishers for publishing their articles.

Who uses Open Access publishing?
A wide range of universities and publishers of scientific journals and databases. For example, Harvard University, Cornell University, Copenhagen Business School, Oxford University Press, Public Library of Science and BioMed Central.


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