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Creating and Modifying Open Educational Resources: Module 5

Applying a License to OER


The following information is largely from our Open Licensing and Copyright page, which also includes information on copyright policies within the USG.

As soon as you create a resource in a tangible format, that material is protected under United States copyright law. Rights to use the resource, including selling it, are yours unless otherwise defined by a publishing contract. How, then, do open educational resources stay completely open?

Open educational resources (OERs) use non-restrictive open licenses to give permission to the public to distribute, remix, or create new works out of these OERs. Many OERs use Creative Commons as their open license system of choice. Creative Commons licenses have a legal document behind each license type, along with a “human-readable” easy to read reference version and a machine-readable code. Open licenses are compatible with United States copyright law, because you, as the author or publisher, are giving explicit permission to use your works to the public.

The easiest way to select a Creative Commons license is to use the Choose tool on the Creative Commons website, which asks you a few questions and even gives you the code to embed the image and link to the license on your website.

The types of Creative Commons licenses are:

  • Attribution (CC BY)
    • Anyone is free to remix, redistribute, and even commercially use your work, so long as you are attributed as the original creation’s author.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
    • Anyone is free to remix, redistribute, and even commercially use your work, so long as you are attributed as the original creation’s author and the new works are shared under the same license. This keeps all material derived from your original work to also be open.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)
    • Anyone is free to redistribute your work, even commercially, so long as you are attributed as the creation’s author. Remixes and other derivative works are not allowed.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
    • Anyone is free to remix and redistribute your work, but not commercially, so long as you are attributed as the original creation’s author.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
    • Anyone is free to remix and redistribute your work, but not commercially, so long as you are attributed as the original creation’s author and the new works are shared under the same license. This keeps all material derived from your original work to be both open and non-commercial.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
    • Anyone is free to redistribute your work, but not commercially, so long as you are attributed as the original creation’s author. Remixes and other derivative works are not allowed.
  • Public Domain Mark (CC0)
    • No rights reserved - anyone is free to remix, redistribute, and even commercially use your work.

Reflection:

1. Open Licenses often appear to be hard to understand, but once you get the basics, it’s very easy to apply a license to a work. Try explaining what one open license does in your own words, as if you were telling a colleague about it.

2. How would a class in the Fine Arts benefit from having all student work shared with the public through a Creative Commons license? What benefits would this give the students who created the works?

Proceed to Module 6