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OER and Textbook Alternatives: Copyright and Creative Commons

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal right, grounded in the United States Constitution, that gives the owner of copyright in a work the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce (make copies of ) the work; and
  • Modify or prepare derivative works based on the work. (Examples of derivative works include translations, transforming printed works into musicals or films, rearrangements of scores, and any other recast, transformation or adaptation of a work); and
  • Distribute the work in any format by sale, publication, license, rental, or for free; and
  • Publicly perform or display the work; and
  • Authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights

What is Protected by Copyright?

Original works, whether or not published, that exist in a tangible medium that can be touched, seen, heard, read and fall into one of the following categories are protected by copyright.

Copyright applies to a wide variety of works including, but not limited to:

  1. Literary works
  2. Musical works, lyrics, and sound recordings
  3. Dramatic works
  4. Pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. Visual works (photographs, paintings, sculptures, maps, logos, etc.)
  6. Multimedia works, movies, and other audio-visual works
  7. Software code
  8. Architectural works, etc.

These works are protected from the moment they are in a fixed format regardless of whether they contain a copyright notice or copyright has been registered.

Items not protected include, but are not limited to:

  1. Titles, names, slogans
  2. Ideas, procedures, methods, principles, concepts, systems
  3. Works lacking originality (calendars, tape measures, rulers, etc.)
  4. Works created by employees of the U.S. Government in the course of their employment
  5. Works comprised entirely of public domain information

Understanding Creative Commons

Creative Commons is the most, if not the only, copyright license used for open educational resources. It allows the user to share their work while still protecting their rights as a creator, but also allowing their work to be used and shared primarily without compensation. Use the image searcher below to find images using Creative Commons licensing.

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use for commercial purposes;
modify, adapt, or build upon.


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Attribution

"Copyright and Creative Commons" by Harford Community College is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Creative Commons - BY license