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Copyright FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about copyright

What is creative commons?

Creative commons allows the creator to make their work available to everyone for free, while it is available for free, certain rights remain with the owner (modifying the work, profiting from the work, etc.) There are six types of licenses available through creative commons that offer different levels of restrictions that owners can apply to their work, the following are the types of licenses:

CC BY: Authorship

CC BY-SA: Authorship - Share Alike

CC BY-ND: Authorship - No Derivatives

CC BY-NC: Authorship - No Commercial Use

CC BY-NC-SA: Authorship - No commercial Use - Share Alike

CC BY-NC-ND: Authorship - No commercial Use - No Derivatives

For more information on the types of licenses available through creative commons, please visit:

What does “Approved for Free Cultural Work” certification mean?

Approved for free cultural work is a certification (not a license) that is similar to creative commons, however it does not allow the owner to place as many restrictions on their work. Approved for free cultural work grants the users the following privileges:

  • Freedom to use the work itself
  • Freedom to use the information in the work for any purpose
  • Freedom to share copies for any purpose
  • Freedom to make and share adaptations or derivatives

What are the other marks/type of use that are available?

No known copyright (Public domain mark) 

  • Is used by cultural heritage institutions on very old works that have expired copyrights, and are copyright free globally 

No rights reserved (CC0) 

  • Used by owner or author on material that is still copyrighted when they want to make it available without restrictions. The copyright laws still apply, but by using this mark the owner forfeits most rights and is unlikely to exercise them.


  • Is always open source and restricts any derivatives to being open source as well, this closely resembles the creative commons license: CC BY-NC-SA: Authorship - No commercial Use - Share Alike.

Free to download

  • The owner keeps all of the rights but allows free use, however the owner may choose to make it more or less inclusive. Always verify the original sources to make sure that is it not an unlawful copy that you are downloading.

License free of charge

  • Free use of work but it is restricted by the owner’s license, and there usually is no possibility to share or transform the work.

Open source initiative 

  • Work can be modified by the user, and gives the user the possibility to “close” their adapted work.


Creative Commons Further Information

All of the information for these FAQs was taken from the following Copyright Workshop guide and was intended as a supplement, please visit this guide for any further information:


We acknowledge the financial contribution of the Table Interordres provinciale du secteur Anglophone /  Provincial Interlevel Table for the English Sector, as well as the technical contribution of M. Ryan Moon, Program Manager - English Language Services Cégep à distance.

The presentation content was adapted from the REPTIC April 2014 workshop Copyrights in the CEGEP environment by Maître Robert Y. Cousineau.