There is a growing movement in education to create and use educational materials that are openly available to everyone. These resources are free to access and in most cases free to reuse, modify, and redistribute. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation defines these Open educational resources (OER) as "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."
Using OERs in your courses keeps instructional materials affordable for students, promotes a culture of collaboration and sharing, and eliminates concerns about applying fair use to avoid potential copyright violations.
Each of the example pages in this guide contain links to sites that can help you identify material that is freely available with open licenses.
From the Office of Faculty & Organizational Development at Michigan State University, this site provides material introducing OERs and many links to sources of OER content and other content with open licenses.
"Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional 'all rights reserved' setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law." Because most Open Educational Resources are published under Creative Commons licenses, understanding the licenses will help you make the best use of OER content.
Use resources in the public domain
Works that are not subject to copyright are in the public domain. Public domain works are freely available for use without restriction.
A copyrighted work enters the public domain when the term of copyright protection expires or when its creator chooses to place the work in the public domain (as often indicated by the CC0 license from Creative Commons).
Determining the public domain status of a particular work can be very complicated, but as a general rule of thumb, works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain.
Provide information about a specific work and the Copyright Term Calculator will let you know if it is in the public domain in the United States (and if not, when it will be).
Use library-licensed resources
Delta College Library purchases and subscribes to electronic resources including online journals, e-books, and reference databases. These resources are governed by license agreements, most of which allow the licensed material to be used for educational purposes by "authorized users." Authorized users are typically defined as Delta students, faculty, staff, and researchers and walk-in users of the library.
Most license agreements allow authorized users to:
Download, print, and save single copies of items for their personal use
Incorporate links to items in electronic coursepacks and course management systems
Using library-licensed resources for online courses avoids the need to perform fair use analyses or to seek permission from rightholders.
When using library-licensed resources, be sure to:
Use the link to the resource provided in Delta Library online databases.
Use the materials for courses offered through Delta College.
This research tool searches the library's resources, including books, ebooks, magazines, journals and newspapers in one powerful search.
Seek permission from the rightsholder
If you want to use third-party copyrighted material for online instruction, you believe that your intended use does not qualify as fair use, and you have determined that Delta College does not already have a license to use this material for your purpose, then you may seek permission from the rights holder. There is often a fee involved.
In some cases, you may need to research who owns the copyright and make a request to that person or entity directly. In other cases, you may be able to license use of the work through a collective rights agency.
The resources below provide detailed instructions on obtaining permissions for different types of media.
This comprehensive guide explains how to obtain copyright permission for using text, photos, fine art images, music, film, and theatre and how to initiate an independent search for a copyright holder if necessary.
Offers information on finding the copyright owner, complex searches, collective licensing agencies for various types of works, requesting permission (including model forms), and what to do if you cannot find the copyright owner.