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Open Educational Resources (OER): License


OER either reside in the public domain or are licensed under an open license (*).  Broadly defined, an open license is a license that grants permission to use, re-use, and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions. Creative Commons licenses are most widely used by OER creators. 

You may freely use materials residing in the public domain without any restrictions.

You may freely use materials released under the Creative Commons (CC) licenses as long as you follow the license conditions. 

(*) Examples of other open licenses include open publication license and GNU Free Documentation License. 

Creative Commons licenses and OER

Creative Commons offers licenses with various degrees of openness. CC BY is the most open license.


(CC BY Gable Green)

The 5 R permissions of OER

OER means that a resource is available free of cost and that five permissions (called the "5Rs") are also available free of cost.

These permissions include:

Retain Make and own copies
Reuse Use in a wide range of ways
Revise Adapt, modify, and improve
Remix Combine two or more
Redistribute Share with others

Based on David Wiley's The Access Compromise and the 5th R ; CC BY

Licensing your OER


For a detailed legal overview of the Creative Commons licenses, see Creative Commons Licenses Legal Pitfalls: Incompatibilities and Solutions.