FAQ: Creative Commons Licenses for Global Health Content

What is a Creative Commons (CC) license?

CC licenses allow members of the public to share, re-use and distribute your work. CC licenses work alongside copyright, and are increasingly common for shareable content - MIT, Khan Academy, and even the White House use CC to share their content.

Why does this matter in global health?

Health training materials share vital information with health workers and communities. Releasing this content under a CC license means that Ministries, trainers, health workers, and others can access, use, and share their content. It also helps to save time and costs by reducing unnecessary duplication in content development.

mPowering requires that all resources submitted to ORB have a CC or public domain license, to ensure that our users have permission to access and share the content.

Will I still get credit as the author of my content?

Yes. All CC licenses require anyone sharing content to acknowledge the author. In fact, CC licenses can help content reach new audiences and share your organization’s work more broadly.

Can my content be changed by others?

It’s up to you. Some licenses allow users to remix, build upon, or modify your work (creating derivatives), while others do not allow for derivatives of any kind.

How can I decide which license is best for me?

There are six main kinds of CC licenses. All require attribution to the original author, but they vary by how much they allow the user to change the content, and how it can be shared. Try the license chooser at www.creativecommons.org/choose to help you find the license that meets your needs.

Can I choose which content I release under a CC license?

Yes, you can choose a license for each piece of content you produce. Many organizations use different CC licenses for different pieces of work, or release some things under CC while retaining others for commercial use.

How can I select the right CC license for my content?

Visit www.creativecommons.org and choose the license that meets your needs. Fill out a short form with the title of the piece and who should receive attribution, then submit. If your resource lives offline, (such as a PDF), you will be prompted to download a graphic of the CC license of your choice. If your resource lives online (such as a video), you’ll receive an html code that you can include on your web site to indicate which content is available under which license.

What if someone uses my content in a way that is not compatible with the license?

With content released under any license, there is a risk that it could be misused. With a CC license, your organization has the right to deal with this infringement in the same way as an infringement of a non-open license or copyright.

Could I be liable if someone makes mistakes when adapting my content?

Misuse of medical or health education content is a serious concern, and all the CC licenses contain clauses on disclaimer of warranties and limitation of liabilities. Most organizations find these sufficient, but some choose to seek legal advice to ensure the license terms meet their needs.

How can I learn more?

More detailed FAQs are available on the Creative Commons website. If your question is not addressed there or you need additional information, please contact info@mpoweringhealth.org.