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Copyright vs. Open Licensing

The concept of OER is based on a set of permissions that enable the use and modification of educational content. On this page, you will learn about the shift from traditional copyright to open licenses ("copyleft" licensing), and how you can apply open licenses to works you create, remix, and share. For additional information on copyright literacy in general, visit our Copyright Training for Faculty and Staff (eConestoga Course), or visit our Copyright for Faculty & Staff guide.

Copyright

About Copyright

Copyright matters, because as educators, we often use content created by others, and create content for others to use.

How to Determine Permissions

Follow this simplified checklist to determine the use permissions of the resources that you find online:

  • Look carefully at the resource you want to use and any information surrounding the resource to identify licensing information.
  • Also review the "about" and "terms of use" pages of the resource's website for permissions and licensing information.
  • If you cannot find a symbol or statement of the licence or the permissions for use, the copyright owner is probably retaining all of their exclusive rights.

Additional Notes:

  • In Canada, the majority of federal, provincial and territorial government works and records are protected by Crown copyright (Opens in a new window), and their copyright expires 50 years after the date of publication. However, the Government of Canada permits reproduction of its works for personal or public non-commercial purposes or for cost-recovery purposes under certain conditions.
  • Some provincial and territorial governments in Canada also allow reproduction of their works under certain restrictions. Check the respective government website for more information.

How to Seek Permission to Use a Work

Use the guidelines below to identify whether you need to seek permission from the copyright holder when repurposing existing materials as OER. You may also contact the library for help on determining whether your intended use falls within a copyright exception or licence, or whether permission is required.

  • You DO NOT need to ask permission if:
    • The resource is in the public domain. However, note that if resources do reside in the public domain, they may contain within them copyrighted works, so examine the resource and read the terms of use carefully.
    • Your intended use falls within a copyright exception or limitation (such as fair dealing).
    • The way that you want to use the resource is in compliance with the terms of a copyright licence that applies to you (i.e., you already have permission in this case).
  • You DO need to ask permission if:
    • You wish to use a resource that is protected by copyright, and your intended use would be infringing copyright law.
    • You wish to use a resource in a way that is beyond the scope of the permission granted to users in an applicable copyright licence.
  • You should consider asking for permission if:
    • You are uncertain about whether your intended use is permitted by an applicable copyright licence.
    • You are uncertain about whether a work is protected by copyright.
    • You are uncertain about whether your intended use falls within a copyright exception or limitation (such as fair dealing).
 

Attribution:

Text is a derivative of Permissions Guide for Educators - opens in a new window, by ISKME - opens in a new window, licensed under CC BY, 4.0. - opens in a new window

Creative Commons logo in black textClick on the logo to visit the Creative Commons website for more information on open licensing.