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Open Educational Resources (OER) & Reed Library: Copyright v. Creative Commons

What Is Creative Commons?

Most OER are released under Creative Commons (CC) licenses, which explicitly allow for uses beyond those typically allowed under copyright law.


In essence, CC flips the traditional copyright model, in which all rights are reserved except those expressly granted. Instead, under CC all rights are granted except those expressly reserved.

CC materials do not reside in the public domain; the creator still retains legal ownership of the work. However, unlike traditionally copyrighted materials, all CC materials may legally be redistributed to anyone, at any time, indefinitely.

In addition, most CC materials can be revised and remixed before being redistributed. The exact permissions allowed for a particular work depend upon what CC license is applied to it.

What About Fair Use?

Contrary to popular belief, fair use is not a law. Rather, it is a judicial doctrine that guides courts in how to apply copyright law. As a result, fair use allowances for educational use are much narrower than commonly believed.

To quote the open access journal PLOS: "Don't assume that you can use any content you find on the Internet, or that the content is fair game just because it isn't clear who the owner is or what license applies."


To accommodate the fair use doctrine, Reed Library suggests that copies of traditionally copyrighted (i.e., non-CC) materials may be used in a course for up to two semesters.

For longform works, such as books, up to 10% of the total work may be uploaded. Use of such copies for three or more semesters would violate these guidelines.

However, linking to the original source of a resource is always acceptable.

For instance, a link to a New York Times article on NYTimes.com is acceptable indefinitely. Reed Library suggests using a PDF scanned from the Times for only two semesters.

By the same token, a link to an article in one of the Library's databases is acceptable indefinitely. Reed Library suggests using PDF of an article obtained through interlibrary loan for only two semesters.


If you need help with linking directly to Library resources, such as articles, eJournals, and eBooks, see our guide to creating static links.

If you have any questions about copyright law, please contact Kerrie Fergen Wilkes in Reed Library.

Creative Commons Licenses Explained

CC BY logo

Attribution (CC BY)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work. All other uses are allowed.

This is the most open CC license.

 

CC BY-NC logo

Attribution / Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work.
You are allowed to change the work, but you cannot use it for commercial purposes.

 

CC BY-SA logo

Attribution / ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work. You are allowed to make changes to the work,
but any derivative works you create must also be released under a CC BY-SA license.

 

CC BY-NC-SA logo

Attribution / Non-Commercial / ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work.
You are allowed to make changes to the work, but you cannot use it for commercial purposes,
and any derivative works you create must also be released under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

 

CC BY-ND logo

Attribution / Non-Derivative (CC BY-ND)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work,
and prohibits you from making any changes to the work.

 

CC BY-NC-ND logo

Attribution / Non-Commercial / Non-Derivative (CC BY-NC-ND)

Requires you to attribute the source of the work, and prohibits you from
making any changes to the work or using it for commercial purposes.

This is the most restrictive CC license.

Applying a CC License

If you are applying a CC license to work you created, the Creative Commons license page can help you choose which license is right for you.

It will also give you language to use to apply the license.

Citing CC-Licensed Works

When using material from a CC-licensed work, your must include a citation that includes the title of the work, the author (if known), the source URL, and the CC license applied.

Example citation:
"Exit Sign" by David King (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

License

CC BY-NC-SAThis page, created by Daniel A. Reed Library, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International License.

Daniel A. Reed LibraryThe State University of New York at Fredonia • 280 Central Ave., Fredonia, NY 14063 • 716-673-3184 • Fax: 716-673-3185 • reedref@fredonia.edu