What is a Creative Commons license?

A Creative Commons license allows you to share, on your own terms, the course content you create. You determine how and to what extent other users can reuse your original course content. Likewise, you can reuse other users' content if it has a Creative Commons license. There are many other resources on the web that use Creative Commons licenses, such as Flickr, YouTube, and Wikimedia Commons. The licenses you use for your course are specified in your course settings.

Canvas includes a help tool so you can determine which type of Creative Commons licenses are best for you. You can select one or multiple licenses to determine how flexibly you share your course content. The benefit of using Creative Commons licenses is that other instructors can use and build and improve upon your own content. This sort of creative collaboration can add value to your curriculum.


All Creative Commons licenses require Attribution. In other words, when others distribute or reuse your work, they must always credit you for your original creation. If you select Attribution as your only Creative Commons license, others can copy, distribute, and use your course content or altered forms of your course content.


If you add a ShareAlike license to your course content, others are allowed to copy, distribute, and use your course content only if they redistribute your content using the same Creative Commons license.

Tip: The Attribution-ShareAlike license is used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects. With this license, others can copy, distribute, and use your course content or altered forms of your course content (even for commercial purposes) as long as they credit you and use the same Creative Commons license.


A Non-Commercial license adds the caveat that others can use your course content, but not for commercial purposes.

No Derivatives

A No Derivatives license indicates that others can use your course content, but they may not change it in any way.

Choose Your Licenses

Choose Your Licenses

You can combine the various licenses described above to share your course content in the way that works best for you. The list below shows the available license combinations, from least restrictive to most restrictive:

  • Attribution
  • Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-No Derivatives
  • Attribution-NonCommercial
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives

You can view more information about Creative Commons licenses and how they work at creativecommons.org/licenses.

Don't forget: You must make your course publicly available for others to be able to see and use your content. To make your course publicly available, select the Make this course publicly visible check box on your Course Settings page.

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