Open Access Licenses (Creative Commons and GNU)

Some authors award licensing of "copyleft" licenses, such as licenses Creative Commons (CC) or the GNU software licenses, thanks to which they facilitate the use indicating to the person who will use them of what permissions it has to do it and under what conditions.

When an author grants a CC license to his work, he is authorizing any person and in a non-exclusive way specific uses of the same, more permissive than those allowed by the Intellectual property law:


  • All CC licenses allow users to reproduce, distribute and publicly communicate the works.
  • Depending on the license chosen, the author can also allow the commercialization and / or creation of derivative works (translations, etc.).
  • The user always mentions and recognizes the authorship, as well as providing a link to the original CC license in case the work is reused or disseminated.
  • The author lliceinitiator remains the exclusive holder of the exploitation rights of the work

Works without a free access license ONLY can be used according to the one established by Intellectual property law:


  • A reservation of rights is established for which, without prejudice to the existing legal exemptions (such as private copying or the right of summons), the reproduction, distribution, public communication or transformation of the work is prohibited.
  • The user of the work that wants to make any use not contemplated as a legal exemption, should contact the author and / or owner of the rights to request permission.

The six usage licenses Developed by Creative Commons allow the reproduction, distribution and public communication of the original work and, in some cases, its commercialization and / or creation of derivative works such as translations, abstracts or children's versions.

If you DO NOT want to allow commercial use of your work, you can choose one of these three licenses, depending on whether you want to authorize or not the creation of derivative works (translations, etc.)
Attribution - NonCommercial: The creation of derivative works is allowed. Commercial use of the original work or the possible derivative works is not allowed
Attribution - NonCommercial - Share Share: The creation of derivative works is allowed. No commercial use of the original work or possible derivative works is permitted, the distribution of which must be done with the same CC license or with a license equivalent to the one that regulates the original work.
Attribution - NonCommercial - SenseObraDerivada: Commercial use of the original work or the generation of derivative works is not allowed
If you want to allow commercial use of your work, you can choose one of these three licenses as you wish to authorize or not to create derivative works (translations, etc.)
Recognition: The commercial use of the work and possible derivative works is allowed, the generation and distribution of which is also allowed without any restriction.
Recognition - ShareAlike: The commercial use of the work and of the possible derived works is allowed, the distribution of which must be done with the same CC license or with a license equivalent to the one that regulates the original work.
Attribution - SenseObraDerivada: The commercial use of the work is allowed but not the generation of derivative works.

It should be taken into account that authorizations ofcommercial uses that can be made through CC licenses refer to the uses that are made of the document, not the type of user who uses them. For example, a private company can upload a "non-commercial" CC-licensed document to its website or intranet as long as it does not require any financial consideration for access (despite being a commercial company, users freely access the work without making any payment).

In any case, the users of the works always have to quote and recognize the original authors, as well as providing a link to the original license in case they reuse or disseminate the work.

Best practices for attribution (how to indicate authorship and CC license)

The author is the one who has the moral and exploitation right of his work and, therefore, who can communicate it publicly to an institutional deposit or website (with or without a CC license, according to the acts of exploitation that want to authorize third parties).

However, in the case of a published or soon-to-be-published work, the author must bear in mind that he can only do so if he has not exclusively assigned the corresponding rights of exploitation to a third party (publisher), in especially the right of public communication (right that would allow you to upload your document to the web or repository). Otherwise, you can only communicate the work with the permission of the rights holder.

  • If the author does not know in what situation he has transferred his exploitation rights and does not know whether he can publicly communicate the work, he must consult the publication rules acceptance sheet or the assignment of rights sheet, in the in the case of magazines or conferences, or the publishing contract in the case of monographs. For example, there are quite a few publishers that allow self-archiving in digital repositories with some limitations.
  • If the work has not been published, it can be communicated in the depository or on the website without any problem. If you want to publish in the futur it is necessary to consider, however, the possibility that the publication policy only accepts works not previously published.
  • It is very important to keep in mind that in case you plan to apply for a patent in the futur, any prior disclosure of the invention or any publication that describes it, may affect the novelty and validity of the patent applied for. Therefore, in this case it is preferable not to disseminate the work.

In case the holder of the rights grants the CC license of partial form, it is recommended to detail this clearly. For example, the license icon may be displayed with a general notice, additionally marking the specific materials to which the license does not apply through an explanatory text such as "© copyright holder - used with permission"or"CC license does not apply to this image".


© Name of the owner of the exploitation rights, 2021

Unless stated otherwise, the contents of this work are subject to the Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Share 3.0 Spain

© Name of the owner of the exploitation rights, 2021

The contents of this document (except texts and images not created by the author) are subject to the Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Spain


As set out in Section 7 of the CC Licensing Code (e.g., CC by-nc-nd):

"This license and the granting of the rights it contains will automatically end Should any of the terms be disregarded. However, the license of those persons or entities that have received your collections with this license will not be annulled, as long as these persons or entities are maintained in full compliance with this license. The 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 sections will remain in effect even though you complete this license.

In accordance with the above conditions, the granting of rights under this license is in force for the entire term of protection of intellectual property rights according to applicable law. Despite this, llicenciador reserves the right to disclose or publish the work or service in different conditions to the present, or withdraw it anytime. However, This will not mean that this license is terminated (or any other license that has been granted, or must be granted, under the terms of this license), but will continue in force and with full effects, unless it has been completed in accordance with the provisions established above, notwithstanding the moral right of repentance in the terms recognized by the applicable intellectual property law. "

In other words, the rights of CC licenses are granted in a non-exclusive and perpetual way under these requirements:

  • provided that their conditions are not met
  • notwithstanding theart. 14.6 of the LPI (withdrawal of a work of commerce by change of the own intellectual or moral convictions)

Therefore, although the author may withdraw or change the license initially granted to his work, this does not affect the people who have already used it under the original license (respecting all the conditions thereof).

There are several licenses approved by Creative Commons that are compatible with both licenses CC BY-SA (Recognition-Share Share) i CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Share).

Therefore, when an author performs a work derived from a work with one CC BY-SA o BY-NC-SA, you have the option of using one of the compatible licenses, depending on the specific version of the original CC license:

Compatible licenses

If an author wishes to use various works, each of which has a different CC license, you need to consider whether your new build includes one compilation of these independent works, or one adaptation of the same:

  • A compilation can be distinguished from original collected works (eg, a collection of articles).
  • The author of the compilation must detail the author and license of each of them so that the user of the new work knows how he can use them.
  • The author of the compilation can grant it any CC license they see fit. However, if the license for any of the collected works does not allow commercial uses, the author of the compilation cannot grant a CC that allows them.
  • This CC license can only be applied to new content included in the compilation (introduction, specific chapters, etc.), not to compiled third-party content that already has its own CC license.
  • The original works used cannot be differentiated from an adaptation (translation, children's versions, ...).
  • The author of the adaptation must detail the author and license of each of the works used (eg, in the endnotes of the adaptation).
  • The author of the adaptation may grant a CC license only if it is compatible with the CC licenses granted to the works used. Specifically:
    • The adaptation may not be distributed if any of the works has the condition "no derivative work"
    • If any of the works has the condition "no commercial uses", the CC license of the adaptation must have the same condition.
    • If any of the works has the "share-alike" condition, the CC license of the adaptation must maintain this condition.
    • To find out which CC can be granted, you can use the Creative Commons Mixer.

More information

The six CC licenses have been adapted to many jurisdictions, as in the case of Spanish jurisdiction.

Since the goal of Creative Commons is to ensure that licenses are legally effective worldwide, and has created version 4.0, a version based on various international copyright treaties. In this way, countries that do not have licenses adapted to their own jurisdiction can use these international licenses.

the new 4.0 version of international licenses, among others, present the following improvements:

Internationalization Adaptation to the legislations of almost all countries in order to guarantee their operability throughout the world and possible use by intergovernmental organizations
Interoperability maximization of interoperability between CC licenses and other licenses
Databases right coverage"sui generis"from databases, except explicit exclusion of lliceinitiator
authorship Improvement of the procedure with which an author may request the non-mention of his authorship, both in the reproductions of his work and in the works derived therefrom. In addition, the users of the works can recognize the authorship of the works used through a link to a web page where this information is listed.
other "What's New in 4.0"

The works of public domain are those whose exploitation rights have been extinguished and which, therefore, can be used freely by any person without having to ask permission or pay the original owner (provided that their authorship and integrity are respected , in the terms provided for in sections 3rd and 4th from article 14 of the Intellectual property law).

  • CC licenses do not serve to mark public domain works. In fact, these works can be used freely, regardless of whether they were originally subject to a CC license or not.
  • In order to facilitate the identification and localization of works of public domain, Creative Commons, with the support ofEuropeana, it promotes to mark them by means of the "Public Domain Mark"This is only an identifying brand of public domain works, not a license that determines the uses that can be made of them.

Given the origin of its components, it is necessary to take great care of the legal aspects related to the creation and distribution of free software.

The GNU licenses They are free software licenses with which authors have a tool to authorize the execution of their software freely. There are several GNU licenses, which include the GNU General Public License (LPG or ordinary LPG) I la GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL or reduced GPL).

GNU GPL license

Permitted uses

  • Run the program for any purpose, including those of a commercial nature
  • Study how the program works and adapt it to your own needs
  • Redistribute copies of the program to help third parties 
  • Improve the program and disseminate improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits
  • If the program is copied or distributed, it must be accompanied by the corresponding one source code readable by machines or a written offer to provide the corresponding full source code (without this code, the study and modification of the software would not be viable).
  • Copies that are distributed in the program must be accompanied by a notice regarding copyright, as well as a copy of the GNU GPL license.
  • If copies of the program or any part thereof are modified, or if a program based on it is developed, the resulting work may be distributed only if it is also accompanied by a copyright notice, as well as a copy of the GNU GPL license.
GNU LGPL license
Permitted uses
  • The same uses as the GNU GPL in private programs (while the GNU GPL only allows them in free programs).
  • It is intended for software libraries rather than executable programs.
  • If the library is copied or distributed, it must be accompanied by the corresponding one source code readable by machines or a written offer to provide the corresponding full source code.
  • Distributed copies of the library must be accompanied by a copyright notice and the GNU LGPL license granted, as well as a copy of the GNU GPL license.
  • If copies of the library or any of its parts are modified, the resulting library can be distributed only if it is also granted a GNU LGPL or GNU GPL license. However, programs linked to the library may be subject to other licenses as long as the library itself can be modified

For more information, go to: is a project that aims to offer various cultural heritage management institutions declarations of rights to inform the public about the copyright protection regime and the possibilities of reusing digital objects

Declarations of rights have been prepared to address the specific needs of cultural heritage management institutions and online cultural heritage aggregation platforms; are not intended to be used by individuals for llicestart your own works (in this case, consider using a license Creative Commons).

Works distributed under CC licenses
Textual materials
  • Open access books: collection of books / electronic dictionaries published with free access (with or without CC licenses).
  • Magazines with open access: collection of scientific journals with "peer review" published with free access (with or without CC licenses).
  • Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS): Set of databases with photographic material in the areas of archeology, art, history, scenic arts, etc.
  • Bigfoto: Website of photographs created by amateur photographers.
  • Flaticon: Freepik Company provider bank icons that can be used according to the corresponding usage licenses.
  • Flickr: Photograph storage that can be used depending on different types of CC licenses.
  • Freepik: Partially free access image bank.
  • Internet Archive's Map of Book Subjects: A map that allows you to navigate through the images contained in the books on the website Internet Archive Books. (the size of each of the thematic links indicates the number of available images on the corresponding subject).
  • openverse: Finder for photographs, images, and sound documents that are in the public domain or offered under a CC license.
  • Pexels: Free access photo and video platform.
  • Pixabay: Bank of images, videos and music with free access.
  • Photo Pin: free photos for bloggers & creatives: Photo browser subject to CC licenses used by the Flickr API.
  • Wikimedia Commons: Repository of photographs, diagrams, cartoons, music, voice, video and other freely accessible multimedia files.
Musical works
  • Jamendo: Platform where artists can upload their musical works with a Creative Commons license.
  • free music: Includes musical pieces under the LML ("licence of free music").
It should be noted that when an author grants a CC license to his work through the Creative Commons, you can not only access the icons and full text of each of the six licenses, but also the corresponding HTML code. The inclusion of this HTML code on the website from which the work is disseminated, allows it to be recoverable by the various search engines that provide all the works subject to CC licenses.

YouTube It offers authors who want the possibility of granting a license Creative Commons BY in your videos.

To retrieve these videos to the platform, follow these steps:

1. Make the search of interest to YouTube

2. Activate the “Filter"

3. Select “Creative Commons” in the “ columnFunctions"


4. In the results screen, select the object object video

5. Activate “Show more”To be able to consult the licencia CC granted


L'Unpaywall button is an extension for Chrome and Firefox that, using a padlock icon, indicates existing versions with free and open access to articles published in paid scientific journals.

Thus, when you want to read an article from a magazine that we have not subscribed to,Unpaywall button provides the other existing versions of the same article with open access (in ArXiv, PubMed Central among others).

According to its creators, the probability of finding an open copy of an article is between 50% and 80%.

How can I share it? is an informative tool of what uses can be made of each publication. Once the DOI is provided and it is indicated if we are the authors, it offers the following information:

  • The places where the publication can be disseminated (social networks, institutional repository, etc.).
  • What information can be shared about it: the full text or just the bibliography and / or the summary (taking into account the policy of the different publishers).

The electronic resources contracted to a supplier under a license of use not more they may be used as permitted and / or prohibited by the corresponding license of use. This license is subject to negotiation between the supplier lliceinitiator ("licensor ") and the client llicenciatari ("licensee ") at the time of hiring.

  • In order to find a balance between the interests of both parties, it can be taken into account The Liblicense Project. This is a project from Yale University and other universities in the world that offers a list of recommendations and examples of electronic document licenses to those responsible for electronic resource procurement. In addition, it also offers free software to create a license for electronic resources.
  • In the case of the resources contracted by the Libraries, Publications and Archives Service of the UPC (magazines and e-books, databases ...), it must be taken into account that these can only be used respecting the terms of use already negotiated with the corresponding suppliers.

If you want to use a work (in a way that is not allowed for any exception to the Intellectual property law) and this one is not subject to a license of use that determines the usages that can be done, it is necessary to contact the holder of the corresponding operating rights.

In this sense, the symbol of the copyright © indicates that a work is subject to copyright (with a reservation of rights of exploitation by the owner), as well as the name of the person who owns these rights and the year of disclosure of the work .

On the other hand, some repositories / search engines also provide metadata that informs of the access conditions of these works with reservation of rights and without a license to use: free online access, restricted access for reasons of confidentiality, etc.

Last update: 04 / 06 / 2024