Open education encompasses more than just freely available and adaptable research and learning materials. On the whole, its practitioners, advocates, resources, and practices seek to reimagine education as a fundamental right, accessible to all, and encouraging of the co-creation of knowledge between experts and non-experts. While open education’s long-term aims are often radical and nebulous in nature, it also addresses more urgent, practical issues. Most of these practical issues deal directly with the existing landscape of course materials – those materials required by instructors for student course completion and subject understanding, to include textbooks, trade books, courseware, software, and supplies – and the ability of learners to freely access these materials.
In the United States, copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. this can include paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, choreography, and more. Works are original when they are independently created by a human author and have a minimal degree of creativity. Independent creation simply means that you create it yourself, without copying. A work is fixed when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. (U.S. Copyright Office, What Is Copyright)
Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. For more information about copyright and fair use, see the Iwasaki Library's Fair Use guide. Fair use is one powerful tool for individuals interested in using copyrighted materials in their own creations.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges. Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. From the reuser’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question, “What can I do with this work?”
Before you apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to your work, there are some important things to consider:
For help in selecting a license that best fits your needs, refer to the CC License Chooser tool from Creative Commons.
There are six different license types, listed in order from most to least permissive for reuse:
Additionally, creators may assign their works to the public domain. CC0 (aka CC Zero) is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.