Creative Commons - Why and How

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Competendo is an Open Educational Resource for reasons. Creative Commons is not only a technical and legal concept, it is also an attitude. On the one side it is contributing to a free and open knowledge society, on the other hand Creative Commons are a self-service-shop with knowledge that would otherwise have a marketable price. But when the price is not expressing the value - what then? And who? Some words about ethics of sharing ethics in the digital age.

Commoning is a term coined by the Commons movement, describing a social practice of empowering people to create, share and manage resources collectively, saving them from appropriation through a few and from scarcity through commercialisation. Digitalisation offers many opportunities for digital commoners, since it enables sharing on a new scale. Creative Commons are to the knowledge society, what free and decentralised software is to the Internet. In order to remain open to the community, a lot of authors and material providers rely on your fairness. What should be good practice among every citizen is especially relevant for Open Source. Keep the intellectual Commons working!


Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution."

Source: UNESCO

The Five Principles of Ethical Commoning

1. Respecting Sources and Identifying Them

Authors often depend on being visible as contributors. Help them so that they might continue their engagement as commoners.

2. Adopting, Not Stealing

Don’t take other content over in a thoughtless way. Otherwise, you might not thoroughly explore the original work and its quality.

3. Giving Back

Give something back to the community and to authors by publishing, using and sharing other good materials or foregrounding good authors.

4. Appreciating Quality

Appreciate what others give you for free. The value of OER is not measured by money or authorities. Try to find the specific quality of each work.

5. Respect Rights

Original ideas and models can be used, but these need to be cited with appropriate information about the sources. Copyrighted material cannot be mutualized without permission.

Creative Commons Licenses


There are different models of licensing your content under a Creative Commons License.

Open Access


Open Access means free and unrestricted online access to scientific and scholarly information. Open Access materials can be copyrighted and limit resharing Info about Open Access.

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: