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Open Educational Resources (OER) Toolkit

A selection of the support and resources available to the Macalester community through the library and through the OER community

Copyright and Open Licenses

Open licenses: What are they? Why use them?

  • Content found on the internet is under “all rights reserved” copyright unless otherwise specified

  • Open licenses allow copyright holders to specify how their works can be used and shared

  • Most open licenses enable the "5 R’s" of OER; others can: revise, remix, reuse, redistribute, and retain

  • The most common open licenses for educational materials are Creative Commons Licenses

The value of adding a Creative Commons License to your copyrighted work:

All rights reserved copyright Open license
Automatically granted at the moment of creation - no further steps needed You add an open license to your work to let users know which permissions you grant (example: look at the footer on this page)
Copyright holder may give permission for certain uses if you contact them (this can take a long time) Copyright holder specifies permission in advance for certain uses of their work (shortcut!)
You can make a fair use argument for educational reuse without the copyright holder’s permission, but that argument is only good for your course You can share your open course widely because downstream users already have permission to reuse all the content under the terms of the open license

Decoding CC licenses

CC by

CC-BY: Users can do the 5 R’s with the work as long as they provide attribution. 

CC by SA

CC BY Share-Alike: Users provide attribution AND license their derivative work exactly the same way as the original.

CC by NC

CC BY Non-Commercial: Users provide attribution AND are not allowed to use the work for any commercial purpose. 

CC by ND

CC BY No Derivatives: The work can’t be changed, so users can’t do the 5 R’s. Doesn’t meet the definition of open educational resources!

Hands-On OER Handout by Open Oregon Educational Resources is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Learn more about Open Licenses >>

Create an Attribution:

The 5Rs of OER

Open Education Resources allow others to:

Retain: Can make, own, and control copies of the content; Redistribute: Can share original and altered versions of content; Revise: The content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, or altered; Remix: Can mashup content with other material; Reuse: Can fully use content for any purpose, in different mediums

  • Retain
  • Redistribute
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Reuse

...While retaining the creator's copyright, at the same time.

"5Rs" by EllenSeptember is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Using Creative Commons Licenses