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Open Educational Resources: Copyright

A guide to help navigate the world of open educational resources (OERs) that background information, collections of existing OER, creation tools, pedagogical application and academic literature.

CC License Graph

Legal Aspects of OER

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Copyright is what makes OERs possible. These types of licenses allow the creator to apply more flexible copyright terms to their works in which users can copy, adapt, and makes uses of their works.

Creative Commons defines their licenses as, "copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law."

CC licences can often be found at the bottom of the pages and are clickable icons displaying the specifics of the license.


Additional Copyright Resources

Fair Use

Copyright Law prevents reproducing and distributing copyright works as way to protect creator's rights. One caveat to Copyright Law is the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) which allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship. The following contains the factors which must be considered before claiming "Fair Use":

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include— 

(1)    the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2)    the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3)    the amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4)    the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

This information is from our Copyright guide. For more detailed information on copyright issues please visit.

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