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Open Education Resources (OERs): Licensing

A Guide to OERs: Their implementation and Evaluation.


Many Open Education Resources have licenses that regulate how the resource can be used, adapted, attributed or distributed.  Some licenses are more restrictive than others and can impact how the resource is integrated into teaching and learning.  For instance some licenses allow you to alter a textbook anyway you want, while others licenses will allow you to use the textbook for free but wit can't be modify it in anyway.

The most common type of license is the "Creative Commons" license that is outline below.

For help with selecting a license please see below "What license is right for me?"

For help with OERs not licensed by Creative Commons, please contact a librarian.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons (CC) is a license for distributing and using copyrighted works.  The CC License platform outlines the rights reserved by content creators and the obligations of others who use the resource.  CC license use a symbol to designate the rights granted by the author and the responsibilities of the user. 

This guide lists the types of licenses in order from least restrictive to most restrictive and provides links for the complete license deed and legal definitions specified by each license type.

CC-BY (Attribution)   This license lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon others work, even commercially, as long as you credit them for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

CC-BY License Deed

CC-BY Legal Code

CC-BY-SA (Attribute - Share Alike)   This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon others work even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit them and license their new creations under the identical terms.  Any derivative of a resource released with the CC-BY-SA license must also be released with the CC-BY-SA license.

CC-BY-SA License Deed

CC-BY-SA Legal Code

CC-BY-ND (Attribution - No Derivatives)   This license lets you use others' work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared in adapted form, and credit must be provided to the creator.

CC-BY-ND License Deed

CC-BY-ND Legal Code

BY-NC (Attribution - Non-Commercial)   This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon others work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

BY-NC License Deed

BY-NC Legal Code

CC-BY-NC-SA (Attribution - Non-Commercial - ShareAlike)  This license lets you to remix, tweak, and build upon others work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author and license your new creations under the identical terms.

CC-BY-NC-SA Legal Deed

CC-BY-NC-SA Legal Code

CC-BY-NC-ND  (Attribution - Non-Commercial - No Derivatives)  This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing you to download others works and share them as long as you credit yhe author, but you can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

CC-BY-NC-ND License Deed

CC-BY-NC-ND Legal Code

What license is right for me?

  • I just want a free textbook for my class. 

A textbook with any Creative Commons license will meet your needs.

  • I want a free textbook that I can modify for my own instruction curriculum.

Items licensed with the CC-BY (Attribution) and CC-BY-SA (Attribute - Share Alike) will meet your needs


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