Sheila B Robinson on Creative Commons Licensing and Why YOU Need to Understand It

Hello aea365-ers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. Have you ever visited the AEA Public eLibrary and seen this when you click on a resource?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

We certainly hope so! Our eLibrary features a wealth of evaluation resources. Are you familiar with Creative Commons and the funny symbols that make up that sort of dashboard looking icon?

Lesson Learned: Creative Commons licensing allows content creators to share their work under conditions they specify, and opens access to this content to users. 

According to their website, Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

Why is all of this important?

  • Do you want to download and distribute someone else’s content?
  • Do you want to use a picture or icon you found on the internet on a PowerPoint slide for a presentation?
  • Do you want to post someone’s picture or content on your blog*?
  • Did you upload content to share on a website but you don’t want people making money selling your work?
  • Do you want people who use your work to credit you?
  • Do you want to allow people to change the work in any way, or leave it exactly as you created it?

Hot Tip: Familiarize yourself with the 6 different CC licensing options. You don’t have to be an attorney to understand the language. That’s the beauty of CC. Everything is written in “human readable” language.

Cool Trick: Websites such as and search engines such as Google allow users to search for CC licensed content. Look for “advanced search options” or “filter your search” to find these options.

Rad Resource: Back in April, Martha Meacham offered this excellent post on understanding some copyright issues, and also mentioned Creative Commons.

*If you have contributed to aea365 and your post included any picture or graphic, you have likely corresponded with me about CC and copyright. We play by the rules here! If you are interested in writing for aea365 and want to use an image, graphic, video, etc. in your post, you need to know if you have permission to share it in this way!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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