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Appendix 2 - Share-Alike, NonCommercial, NoDerivatives Licences

In this Toolkit and the appendices, we are using and recommending the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) where possible because it meets the the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework (AusGOAL) requirements, and because it is the most re-mixable licence and the most easily understood licence. Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) can be freely adapted and reused with only an attribution required.

However, in this section, we discuss the Share-Alike, NonCommercial and NoDerivatives licences.


2.1       Share-Alike Licences

The Share-Alike (SA) element appears in two of the six standard Creative Commons licences: the CC-BY-SA and the CC-BY-NC-SA.
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The CC-BY-SA licence allows content to be copied, adapted, redistributed and licensed to others, but any new material produced using CC-BY-SA content must be made available under the same CC-BY-SA licence.

The CC-BY-SA adds an additional restriction on top of the CC-BY licence and is suitable for use where you wish to limit the potential to commercialise derivatives materials.  This is because anyone who uses a work licensed CC-BY-SA must also licence their resources under that same licence.  This also has some advantages because it leads to further work being published under a CC licence that can be freely shared and adapted by others.

You can still sell resources that you have licensed under Creative Commons.  It is important to understand that applying a Creative Commons licence to your material does not mean you are no longer able to sell content.

The CC-BY-SA licence also does not prohibit selling content for cost recovery or commercial purposes.  Cost recovery would include activities directly related to the physical production of the materials (ie the cost of printing and/or shipping) and does not include a profit margin.  Commercial purposes would include a profit margin. 

Adaptation vs. inclusion without adaptation

The Share-Alike rule only applies when you are adapting a work, but not when you are including an unaltered work within another document.

This can be illustrated using the diagram on the right. Here, the four images are used without adaptation; they are just placed in a document (such as a text document or a presentation). If you add Share-Alike content to another document without adaptation, you must retain the Share-Alike licence on the Share-Alike content, but you can still license the remainder of the document under CC-BY. The Share-Alike content always retains its SA restriction (“the licence travels with the content”).
App 2 - 2.1 a

However, the images shown in the diagrams below are adaptations of the original images. On the left, the images have been cropped to create a collage. On the right, text and graphics have been overlaid.

App 2 - 2.1 b

When you adapt Share-Alike content like this, the end result needs to be licensed under the same Share-Alike licence. We’ll look at this in more detail now.


2.2       Non Commercial Licences

The Non Commercial (NC) feature is in three of the six standard Creative Commons licences:  CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-NC-SA, CC-BY-NC-ND. 

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The Creative Commons NonCommercial (NC) clause allows others to copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative (i.e. modified) works based upon your work – but the work cannot be used for commercial purposes.

We do not recommend the NonCommercial licence for educational resources. This licence is the most controversial and criticised option available in the Creative Commons licence suite, particularly when related to educational courseware. There are several reasons for this.

At a basic level it is not clear what NonCommercial means. Since Creative Commons licences emerged within the past decade, there is little previous case law that exists to assist in interpreting this clause. Creative Commons’ initial belief was that the term ‘NonCommercial’ should be left undefined so that communities would build their own definition and, if necessary, have recourse to the courts to set the standards of what the term meant.  However, Version 4.0 of the licences have defined NonCommercial as: 

NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation. For purposes of this Public License, the exchange of the Licensed Material for other material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights by digital file-sharing or similar means is NonCommercial provided there is no payment of monetary compensation in connection with the exchange.

Most consider that the licence would prohibit uses that are primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.  There is a general understanding that pure cost recoery would not be considered ‘commercial’ use.  Note that pure cost recovery would only cover activities directly related to producing the materials, such as the cost of printing and cost of shipping.  It would not covr activities such as staffing or development of the materials.

It is also widely understood that the Share-Alike feature eliminates any chance of commercialisation without the controversy of the NonCommercial clause. This is because anyone who uses a work licensed under a Share-Alike condition must also licence their resources under that same licence.  Meaning anyone can also use their resource.  This is seen as a substantial deterrent to those considering commercialisation, because anyone can use their resource.

There is also concern that the NonCommercial restriction may prevent content being used in the non-government school sector and/or courses run for profit (eg by TAFEs or teacher training colleges).

There are few cases in which the use of the NonCommercial term is justifiable. For example, if there are a lot of third-party materials from for-profit entities in your educational resources, it may well be that the only way to release these materials in a more open format is to apply the NonCommercial term. However, in most cases, the NonCommercial term is likely to have undesired repercussions for your work.  There are definite advantages to being less restrictive. Therefore we recommend that, where possible, you should avoid using the NonCommercial restriction.

For additional information to consider when contemplating the NonCommercial licence, see:

Non Commercial licensed content may be sold for cost recovery 

While the NonCommercial licence prevents commercialisation, it still allows for resources to be sold for cost recovery purposes.

‘Cost recovery’ is meant to only cover production costs.  So, for example, it wouldn’t cover something like staffing costs.  It would include activities directly related to the physical production of the materials (ie the cost of printing and/or shipping) and does not include a profit margin.

2.3       NoDerivatives Licences

The NoDerivatives feature is in two of the six standard Creative Commons licences:  CC-BY-ND and CC-BY-NC-ND. 

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A Creative Commons licence with a NoDerivative restriction (CC-BY-ND, CC-BY-NC-ND) means that content cannot be adapted at all.  The resources cannot be altered, transformed, or built upon.

We do not recommend the NoDerivatives licence for educational resources.

Choosing a licence that allows resources to be built upon assists in spreading ideas and bringing social and economic change based on evidence derived from its materials. Allowing derivatives supports building upon new research. The NoDerivatives restriction therefore acts as an impediment to this important ability to use research.

In the education sector this is particularly problematic since teachers often prefer to take parts of a work and combine them to build a teaching resource for students. Students also share this habit since they are accustomed to the ease with which the internet allows for remixing.

There are very few instances where the NoDerivatives Licence will be appropriate, especially for educational resources.  One instance where it may be suitable is for content in which the author has specific concerns about its potential misuse which may have serious consequences for an organisation’s reputation.

For additional information to consider when contemplating the NoDerivatives Licence, see OER Africa’s FAQ:


Before applying the NoDerivatives licence to an educational work, contact the National Copyright Unit to further discuss.


2.4       Attribution

This Appendix is an adaptation of ‘OER Guidance for Schools’ (2014), by Björn Haßler, Helen Neo and Josie Fraser. Published by Leicester City Council, available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

This OER Toolkit and associated Appendix is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC-BY 4.0) so that it can be shared and adapted openly, as long as attribution is given.

You are free to use this content so long as you attribute the National Copyright Unit, Copyright Advisory Groups (Schools and TAFEs).