What CC BY-NC Means

The Creative Commons Attribution–NonCommercial License is one of the licenses created by the Creative Commons project. A work licensed in this way allows the following:

  1. The freedom to use and perform the work, for noncommercial purposes: The licensee must be allowed to make any use, private or public, of the work. For kinds of works where it is relevant, this freedom should include all derived uses (“related rights”) such as performing or interpreting the work. There must be no exception regarding, for example, political or religious considerations.
  2. The freedom to study the work and apply the information, for noncommercial purposes: The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict “reverse engineering.”
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies, for noncommercial purposes: Copies may be given away for free, as part of a larger work, a collection, or independently.
  4. The freedom to distribute derivative works, for noncommercial purposes: In order to give everyone the ability to improve upon a work, the license must not limit the freedom to distribute a modified version (or, for physical works, a work somehow derived from the original), as long as the derivative work is also licensed with an NC license.

The license places three key restrictions on those freedoms:

  1. You must not restrict access to the work using technical measures, or otherwise attempt to impose limitations on the freedoms above.
  2. You must give proper attribution to the author and retain the license notice.
  3. You must not make profit on the work, or derivations of the work.


How to Use CC BY-NC Sources in Lumen Courses

OER material with a CC BY-NC license allows you to apply any of the 5R’s (reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain) to it, so long as its done without commercial gain.  You can copy & paste it straight into Candela; you can adapt it; or you can remix it with other CC sources (except CC ND).

Note that CC-By NC is sometimes combined with other Creative Commons Licenses.  All of the combined licenses must be respected when using these sources in your book.


How to Attribute CC BY-NC Sources in Lumen Courses

  1. In the “Citations” portion of your Edit Page, beneath the text editor box, select “CC Licensed Content.”Locating the CC Licensed Citations tool in the Citations Pull-down menu
  2. Add as much information about the Description of the Content, the Author, the Organization, the URL, and the Project as you have available.
  3. Under the “Licensing” pull-down menu, select “CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial.”Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.35.31 PM
  4. Click Update on the right to Save the page (or “Publish” if the page hasn’t yet been published).


How to Apply CC BY-NC to Your Original Work in Lumen Courses

If you create material in your Lumen book that you’d like to license as CC BY-NC, you can use the same tools to cite it as noted above.  Use the “Description” and “Author” fields in the Citation section to give yourself credit for this work.  Including your “Organization” (such as school name) and/or the URL for your institution will be helpful if others want to contact you about this work later on.

If you opt to apply NC to your own work, you are requiring that anyone who uses it must also use the NC license on it.


Freedom Defined offers this food for thought when considering applying NC to your own work.The “non-commercial use only” variants of the Creative Commons licenses are non-free, and can in one way make the situation worse than the traditional copyright model: many people can or will make the licensing choice only once. In a collaborative context, license changes can be difficult or even impossible. It is therefore crucial that the choice is an informed one.The key problems with -NC licenses are as follows:

  • They make your work incompatible with a growing body of free content, even if you do want to allow derivative works or combinations.
  • They may rule out other basic and beneficial uses which you want to allow.
  • They support current, near-infinite copyright terms.
  • They are unlikely to increase the potential profit from your work, and a share-alike license serves the goal to protect your work from unethical exploitation equally well.

There may be circumstances where -NC is the only (and therefore best) available option, but that number of circumstances should decrease as the business models around free content evolve.