Copyright is legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. The purpose of copyright is not only to protect the rights of the creators of works but also to ensure that there are opportunities for further research and creativity to flow through earlier works.
Copyright laws are legislated by individual countries and may extend to a variety of different protections. Copyright is not just a US thing, copyright legislation exists throughout the world. Treaties that serve as agreements to honor the copyright laws of other countries. Some well-known treaties include the Buenos Aires Convention and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
Did you know that in general anything that is found on the web is copyrighted? Yep, that is right. Copyrights provide protections to creators but sometimes make it difficult to reuse their works in the classroom or on the web.
The essence of Open Education Resources lies in their ability to be shared, reused and adapted by future users. A resource is NOT and OER when there is a copyright holder who has not specified that their works are considered Public Domain or who have not developed a license to allow this reuse.
A license for sharing, reuse and remixing is necessary for most resources from the 20th and 21st centuries, whether US or International, to be considered open. There are a number of licenses available; however, most creators of OER utilize a license tool called the Creative Commons License.
License your materials and assist other instructors around the world!
For more information on copyright in the context of Open education resources, please see the guides linked below or contact our copyright specialist, Melody Herr, Scholarly Communication Librarian.