Open Resources/MERLOT

Open Licensing and Copyright

Open Licensing and Creative Commons

As soon as you put your idea in a tangible format, that material is protected under United States copyright law. Rights to use the material, including selling it, are yours unless otherwise defined by a 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 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.

USG and Copyright

The University System of Georgia Copyright Policy

As a system devoted to providing the highest quality undergraduate and graduate education to students; pursuing leading-edge basic and applied research, scholarly inquiry, and creative endeavors; and bringing intellectual resources to the citizenry, the University System of Georgia is committed to respecting the rights of copyright holders and complying with copyright law.

The University System of Georgia recognizes that the exclusive rights of copyright holders are balanced by limitations on those rights under federal copyright law, including the right to make a fair use of copyrighted materials and the right to perform or display works in the course of face-to-face teaching activities. The University System of Georgia facilitates compliance with copyright law and, where appropriate, the exercise in good faith of full fair use rights by faculty and staff in teaching, research, and service activities.

USG Guides on Copyright and Fair Use
Other Resources on Copyright and Fair Use