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Open Educational Resources

Terms & Definitions 

Open Educational Resources​ are materials used for learning that open (free) to use. These materials are either in the public domain (no copyright) or are available to use under an open license that permits others to use, share, and/or alter the material​

Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)

Revise – edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)

Remix – combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)

Reuse – use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)

Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

Works in the public domain were either published in before 1926 because the copyright has expired by now, the owner somehow lost their copyright due to copyright policies (most common for works published between 1926 and 1964), or the owner gave up their copyright. Also, federal documents are in the public domain. One place to check if a work is in the public domain is through the Copyright Public Records Portal.​

The licenses vary depending on the owner of the work. If someone wants publish their work under and open license, using Creatives Commons license lets the user know how the owner wants their work to be shared. Go to Creative Commons licenses to learn about the different types of open license.​

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. In copyright law, there are a lot of different types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more!

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.

Goucher College Library, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Baltimore, MD 21204 • 410-337-6360 • © 2013-2017 • Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.