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Open Education Resources (OER) - Faculty Tools

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons website provides the information necessary to choose and license your work. It also provides explanations or the licenses you may find on works. Thereis also a searchable library of CC licensed works.

Creative Commons licenses provide a standardized way for authors and creators to grant the public permission to share and use their creative works. Creative Commons licenses mix and match the following elements:

attribution symbol Attribution (BY)
Give credit to the original author
share alike symbol Share Alike (SA)
Distribute derivative works under the same license
non-commercial symbol Non-Commercial (NC)
Only use the work for noncommercial purposes
no derivatives symbol No Derivatives (ND)
Only use verbatim copies of the work

About Fair Use

OER is about using and sharing openly licensed works.  However, the topic of fair use often comes up in OER discussions because it the means by which teachers have frequently shared copyrighted information with their students.  It is helpful to be familiar with copyright and fair use concerns, generally, when discussing OER.

In general, copyright law prohibits reproducing and distributing copyrighted works. However, the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) allows a limited amount of copying and certain kinds of distribution for purposes such as teaching. In determining whether a use is a fair use, the factors to be considered may 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.

The Fair Use Doctrine and its interpretations raise many questions and can be a source of concern for teachers.  The most important point to remember is that Fair Use does provide a substantial degree of freedom for teaching. However, that freedom is often challenged, and in reality most educational institutions do not have the resources to engage in legal battles over this issue. 

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

See the institutional Copyright site for more information.