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OER (Open Educational Resources): Copyright

OER links to sources of free ebooks intended for educational use.

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons licensing is at the heart of the OER movement. CC allows creators to specify more flexible forms of copyright that allows "others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work."

Look for copyright information (often at the bottom of webpages). Creative Commons licensed material sometimes display clickable icons that indicate the specifics of licensing. Examples:

CC-BY License  CC-BY-ND License

CC-BY-SA License  CC-BY-NC-SA License

See the Creative Commons website for more info and to acquire license icons.

Fair Use

In general, Copyright Law prohibits reproducing and distributing copyrighted works. However, the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship. In determining whether the use made of a work in a particular case is a Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use raises almost as many questions as it answers, and can be a persistent source of concern for teachers.  The most important point to remember is that Fair Use is both a right and a privilege, and does provide a substantial degree of freedom and protection for teachers. However, that freedom is often challenged, and in reality most educational institutions do not have the resources, skill, or will to engage in long and expensive legal battles over this issue. 

The Fair Use Checklist can be helpful in determining whether or not usage falls under fair use.

 

 

Guide information

This guide is adapted from the excellent resources at the University of Pittsburgh, Portland Community College, Virginia Tech, and UMass Amherst Libraries.

Licensed with CC-BY
This content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.