OER Toolkit – Licensing

OER is based on a set of permissions that enable the use and modification of educational content. In this section, you will gain knowledge about the shift from traditional copyright to open licenses, and how you can apply open licenses to works you create, remix, and share. Your educational service unit can also provide support on issues related to licensing and copyright.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection that affords the copyright owner the exclusive rights to, among other things:

  1. Reproduce (copy)
  2. Distribute
  3. Publicly perform
  4. Publicly display
  5. Create “derivative works” (e.g., translations, revisions, other modifications)

Without permission from the copyright owner, or an applicable exception such as fair dealing under the Copyright Act, it is a violation of copyright law to exercise any of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights.

 

What is a copyright license?

A copyright license is a grant of permission to use certain copyright rights. Copyright licenses often have specific limitations that are outlined. For example, they may:

  • Be limited in time
  • Contain geographical restrictions
  • Only allow for educational uses
  • Only grant permission to use some of the copyright rights (for example, a licence may grant permission to download and distribute a work, but not the right to create derivative works)

When evaluating the permitted scope of uses, read all copyright language closely. Using a work in a manner that exceeds the scope of permissions granted in a licence is copyright infringement.

National and Local Copyright Policy

Under the Copyright Act of The United States, the author of the work is generally the owner of the copyright. However, if a work is created within the scope of the author’s employment, the employer holds the copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Check your school district’s copyright policies and intellectual property policies. Collective agreements or employment contracts can also affect copyright ownership. Contact your administration if you need more information, since they may be able to direct you to relevant policies and contacts.

Copyright Exceptions and Limitations (Fair Use Act)

Public Domain

Works in the Public Domain are released from copyright protection, due to expiration of their copyright or by designation by the copyright holder. This content may be used in any way by anyone. In Canada, with some exceptions, copyright expires 50 years after the death of the creator.

Fair Use Act Dealing

The Copyright Act was amended to add education as a purpose of fair use.

Linking to Copyrighted Materials

It is not a violation of copyright to link to copyrighted material, nor is it necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holder to, for example, link to a YouTube video in a presentation.

Determine Permissions

Follow this simplified checklist to determine the use permissions of the resources that you find online:

  • Look carefully at the resource you want to use and any information surrounding the resource to identify licensing information.
  • Also review the “about” and “terms of use” pages of the resource’s website for permissions and licensing information.
  • If you cannot find a symbol or statement of the licence or the permissions for use, the copyright owner is probably retaining all of their exclusive rights.

Seek Permission

Use the guidelines below to identify whether you need to seek permission from the copyright holder when repurposing existing materials as OER. You may also contact your educational service unit for help on determining whether your intended use falls within a copyright exception or licence, or whether permission is required.

  • You DO NOT need to ask permission if:
    • The resource is in the public domain. However, note that if resources do reside in the public domain, they may contain within them copyrighted works, so examine the resource and read the terms of use carefully.
    • Your intended use falls within a copyright exception or limitation (such as fair use).
    • The way that you want to use the resource is in compliance with the terms of a copyright licence that applies to you (i.e., you already have permission in this case).

 

  • You DO need to ask permission if:
    • You wish to use a resource that is protected by copyright, and your intended use would be infringing copyright law.
    • You wish to use a resource in a way that is beyond the scope of the permission granted to users in an applicable copyright license.

 

  • You should consider asking for permission if:
    • You are uncertain about whether your intended use is permitted by an applicable copyright license.
    • You are uncertain about whether a work is protected by copyright.
    • You are uncertain about whether your intended use falls within a copyright exception or limitation (such as fair use).

 

Attribution:  Text is a derivative of Permissions Guide for Educators, by ISKME licensed under CC BY, 4.0.

Open License Conditions

Attribution (BY) icon

Attribution (BY) As a creator of OER, you can choose the conditions of reuse and modification by selecting one or more of the restrictions listed below: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.


Non-commercial (NC) icon

Non-commercial (NC) You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for non-commercial purposes only.

 


Share Alike (SA) icon

Share Alike (SA) You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the licence that governs your work.

 


No Derivative Works (ND) icon

No Derivative Works (ND) You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

 


Attribution: Text a derivative of definitions provided in A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources, by Commonwealth of Learning, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Creative Common Licensing Considerations:

Irrevocability:

  • Remember the license may not be revoked.  Once you apply a CC license to your material, anyone who receives it may rely on that license for as long as the material is protected by copyright and similar rights, even if you later stop distributing it.

 

Type of material:

  • Make sure the material is appropriate for CC licensing.  CC licenses are appropriate for all types of content you want to share publicly, except software and hardware.
  • Specify precisely what it is you are licensing. Any given work has multiple elements; e.g., text, images, music. Make sure to clearly mark or indicate in a notice which of those are covered by the license.

 

Nature and adequacy of rights:

  • Make sure the material is subject to copyright or similar rights. CC licenses are operative only where copyright, sui generis database rights, or other rights closely related to copyright come into play. They should not be applied to material in the public domain.
  • Clear rights needed to use the material. If the material includes rights held by others, make sure to get permission to sub-license those rights under the CC license. If you created the material in the scope of your employment or as a work-for-hire, you may not be the holder of the rights and may need to get permission before applying a CC license.
  • Indicate rights not covered by the license. Prominently mark or indicate in a notice any rights held by third parties, such as publicity or trademark rights. This includes any content you used under exceptions or limitations to copyright, and any third party content used under another license (even if it is the same CC license as you applied).

 

Type of license:

  • Think about how you want the material to be used. Consider what you hope to achieve by sharing your work when determining which of the six CC licenses to apply. For example, if you want it to appear in a Wikipedia article, it must be licensed using BY-SA or a compatible license.
  • Consider any obligations that may affect what type of license you apply. Think about any obligations you have, such as licensing requirements from a funding source, employment agreement, or limitations on your ability to use a CC license imposed by a collecting society, that dictate which (if any) of the six CC licenses you can apply.

 

Other Help:

  • You can use the Creative Commons online tool which will help guide you through choosing a license by answering simple questions related to the resource you would like to license.

 

OER LICENSE GAME – This interactive license matching activity can be used to test your knowledge of Creative Commons Licenses.

Licensing Game Link

Sample Policy for OER Participation

For School Districts (Public or Private)

Participation in OER. Collaboration through Open Educational Resources (OER) is beneficial in many ways for the district and for the education community in Nebraska.  The Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC) and the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) have provided a platform to share educational materials with OER designation which can be reviewed and aligned to Nebraska’s state standards.  The board authorizes the superintendent to allow staff members to participate in OER, at the superintendent’s discretion, both by incorporating OER materials into the curriculum adopted by the board and by sharing materials and resources owned by the district.  Those materials and resources include works made for hire by district employees. Unless the superintendent or superintendent’s designee(s) determines otherwise, materials owned by the district may be shared to the ESUCC-NDE OER Collection(s) with the Creative Commons Attribution License designation of either (1) “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike,” which is universally noted as “CC BY-NC-SA”; or (2) “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives,” which is universally noted as “CC BY-NC-ND.”

 

For ESUs

Participation in OER. Collaboration through Open Educational Resources (OER) is beneficial in many ways for the ESU’s member districts and for the education community in Nebraska.  The Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC) and the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) have provided a platform to share educational materials with OER designation which can be reviewed and aligned to Nebraska’s state standards.  The board authorizes the administrator to allow staff members to participate in OER, at the administrator’s discretion, both by incorporating OER materials into the services provided by the ESU to member districts and by sharing materials and resources owned by the ESU.  Those materials and resources include works made for hire by ESU employees. Unless the administrator or administrator’s designee(s) determines otherwise, materials owned by the ESU may be shared to the ESUCC-NDE OER Collection(s) with the Creative Commons Attribution License designation of either (1) “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike,” which is universally noted as “CC BY-NC-SA”; or (2) “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives,” which is universally noted as “CC BY-NC-ND.”

Updated May 23, 2019 12:31pm