What is Open Access?

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. (Peter Suber, “Open Access Overview”)

Many scholars and researchers have moved toward sharing and publishing their work open access (OA) as a way to lower boundaries of access to valuable research.  OA publications are often shared online with clear, easy to read licenses that describe exactly what copyright and licensing restrictions do not apply to the reuse of content.

Video - Introduction to Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a

  1. non-profit organization,
  2. a suite of licenses developed to help creators share their works online, and
  3. a movement of collaboration and sharing.

The suite of Creative Commons licenses, first released in 2002, allow creators to communicate directly to their users about the kind of uses are allowed without asking permissions. The licenses range from least open, restricting commercial use and derivatives, to most open, requiring only attribution:

The six main licenses work with copyright law.  Creators who issue work with a CC license retain full copyright of the material.  Another option CC0 provides creators with an easy way to dedicate their own work to the public domain by forfeiting their copyright altogether. 

More than 1.6 billion works are CC licensed by their creators across multiple online platforms like YouTube and Flickr (Creative Commons, 2020).  Some of these resources are Open Educational Resources or OERs. OERs can be used as an alternative to traditional, restricted access, textbooks to provide affordable and accessible course content to students.

Open Educational Resources

To be an OER, the material must "either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities" (Wiley, n.d.).

  1. Retain:  make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g. download and keep your own copy)
  2. Revise:  edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  3. Remix:  combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g. make a mashup)
  4. Reuse:  use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g. on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  5. 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)

Using Creative Commons Content

When using material that has been issued with a CC license, you must provide full attribution.  Ideal attribution includes the:

  • Title
  • Creator
  • Source
  • License

OERs and other materials released with a Creative Commons license can be used in any way allowed by the CC license.  If your use does not fit the license, you can always request permissions from the creator.  For example:  you found material issued with a CC-BY-ND license, i.e. a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license.  You want to create a translation of the material so it can be accessed in other languages.  Translations would be considered derivatives, and the CC-BY-ND license does not allow this.  You would still be able to contact the creator for permissions to make the translation.

Creative Commons Resources