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Open Educational Resources

Copyright & Open Licenses

Downloads - Creative Commons       Copyright Right - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

Understanding Canadian copyright law is important for anyone at NorQuest College—instructors, curriculum developers, or support staff—who uses materials composed or created by others. Appropriate use of OER requires an understanding of copyright and how it impacts our use of these resources. 



Copyright protects the intellectual property rights of creators or rights holders, granting them exclusive usage rights. In order for others to use copyrighted materials, permission must be granted by the rights holder, or the use must qualify for an exception like fair dealing. 

Open licenses operate within copyright law, but grant specific user permissions in advance.


Open Licenses

OER include resources that are in the public domain, or have an open license that allows for reuse, adaptation and redistribution.

Public domain resources are no longer protected by copyright, either because these rights have expired or have been waived by the creator or rights holder.

Openly licensed resources are still protected by copyright, but certain user permissions have been granted. These permissions vary widely depending on the license. 


The Spectrum of Rights by Teaching & Learning Innovations at CSU Channel Islands is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

In order for a resource to be considered an OER, it must have a license that permits users to:

  • Retain: make or keep a copy of the resource
  • Reuse: use the resource again and again, in various contexts 
  • Revise: adapt, adjust or modify the resource
  • Remix: combine with other open resources that also allow this use
  • Redistribute: share both original and modified copies of the resources


Watch the video below to learn more about open licensing.


Explore Creative Commons licensing by reviewing the slideshow and short quiz.


Learn more