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Open Educational Resources (OER): Copyright and Creative Commons Licenses

This guide provides an introduction to open educational resources (OER), where to find them, and how to use materials for teaching and learning.

Creative Commons vs Copyright

Creative Commons and Copyright are not in opposition. They work together to create an OER. The important thing to remember is that only the copyright holder can assign a Creative Common license to their original work. If one does not own the copyright to a resource, then one cannot openly license it.

Most OER are licensed using a Creative Commons license, which allows creators to choose exactly how their work can be used and reused. Since OER are not just free from cost but also have free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5 Rs (retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute), it's important to tell others exactly how they can and cannot use the OER you've created. Similarly, if you're adopting existing OER or revising existing OER, you must understand how the licenses work so you know what you can and cannot do.


Using Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses are made up of four conditions that can be mixed and matched to create six different license combinations.  When the licenses are combined, they make up six different CC licenses that one can choose from, ranging from least to most restrictive. Under each license, you retain copyright over your creation but allow others to use it under certain conditions.


Choosing and Attributing Licenses

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