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Open Textbooks, OER & Other Open or Free Resources for Faculty: CC for Users

A guide to exploring open textbook options for faculty.

CC licensing and finding educational content

What do the CC licenses mean for someone who is looking for educational content to use for teaching and research?

There are a lot of places to look for Open Educational Resources (OERs), which is educational content created and licensed to be reused by others.  You can find out more in the OER guide.  This guide introduces different OER sources and helps with search tips and techniques for finding images and video that is CC licensed.  Looking in OER focused repositories and collections is the best way to start your OER search, because this content is specifically designed to be open and the focus of the content is on education.

If you do a general search with Google or Bing, you will get a mix of CC licensed and general copyrighted content.   You can always check the search results page for a CC license, they are usually at the bottom of the page.  If you do not find any license, or if the site is copyrighted, you can still link out to that content for your students to view, but you can not embed the content into D2L or on your own website.

The Creative Commons has an easy to follow Best Practices Guide to Attribution. If you want to see an example of how to present multiple licenses on your pages built with OER - this page from Lumen Learning is very helpful. 

So what can I do with CC licensed content?

This depends a bit on the specific license, so let's break it down:



Attribution only or CC-By License

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most open license, others can re-use your content in any way, even in a commercial endeavor as long as they give proper credit to you.

Just a few of the ways your content could be re-mixed and reused...

  • translate the content into another language
  • modify your images - change the colors, edit someone in or out, re-size, place the image into a video, use the image in advertising
  • combine multiple resources into one derived work, adding work of others to yours
  • editing the content of the work
  • customize content to a specific location/discipline/focus - change examples, add different scenarios, change terms to reflect a different discipline

When you finished with remixing and revising, they would only have to cite you, then they could

  • place the content into an LMS or other platform
  • add it to a webpage
  • print it in a handout
  • print it in a student manual (and you could publish/charge for that manual)
  • publish it in a journal article
  • publish it in a book

These are just a few examples, this is not an exhaustive list of how content can be reworked and disseminated.  Someone could also add any of the other CC licenses to the content that they create from/with your content, so it could become CC BY-ND or CC BY-NC/

 

Attribution-ShareAlike  or CC BY-SA

This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon others work even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the original creator and license the new creations under the identical terms.

This license is as open as the CC-By license, you can do all of the remixing you desire (see the CC-By license for suggestions) as long as you ALSO share the final content under the same license structure, so you must license your final product as CC BY-SA.  

So when you are finished remixing, you can create all of the different types of materials with the CC-BY license, but you must license the content in the same manner.  If you publish it, even ask people to pay for it, that creation must be licensed as CC BY-SA. 

This license is used by Wikipedia and the Wikimedia commons.  Boundless Books is a good example of a company using Wikipedia content to create a new consumer product.  Many of their books contain edited content from Wikipedia, so they have made all of these books available for free from their website, with a CC BY-SA license.  They do charge for study materials and if you want a custom book.  

 

Attribution-NonCommercial or CC BY-NC

This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, and although your new works must also acknowledge the creator and be non-commercial, you don’t have to license your derivative works on the same terms.

You have the same remixing options as you do with the CC-By license above, but your output must be non-commercial, that is you can't sell it.  What is interesting with this license is that you do NOT have to license your created work in the same way, so for example you could license your work as CC-BY, and not include the non-commercial.  So subsequent works built on your work could be commercial.  

The definition of commercial can be confusing, for some they think placing content on a website that has advertising is not commercializing the content, so it does not violate the CC license, that only selling the content would violate the license.  If you are in doubt, contact the copyright holder, or review any specific restrictions listed on the original content. The safest option is to avoid any form of reimbursement associated with the site and the content that you remix from NC licensed content.  

 

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or CC BY-NC-SA

This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon other works non-commercially, as long as you credit the creator and license your new creations under the identical terms.

Just to recap from above, you have the same remixing options as with the CC-BY license and here are just a few of the options for remixing and building upon CC BY-NC-SA licensed content 

  • modify an image - change the colors, edit someone in or out, re-size, place the image into a video
  • combine multiple resources into one lesson/lecture
  • take only the content you want and mix it into your lectures/lessons
  • customize content to your location/discipline/focus - change examples, add different scenarios, change terms to reflect your discipline

And, your output options are really the same; as long as the work is non-commercial (neither you or anyone else can sell the product), you can

  • place the content into your D2L courses
  • add it to a webpage
  • print it in a handout
  • print it in a student manual 
  • publish it in a journal article (as long as the journal is Open Access)
  • publish it in a book (if the book is Open Access)

Your output must also be licensed CC BY-NC-SA, so that it can be used by others (who must also license anything they create with your content as CC BY-NC-SA).  

The definition of a commercial endeavor can be confusing, for some they think placing content on a website that has advertising is not commercializing the content, so it does not violate the CC license, that only selling the content would violate the license.  If you are in doubt, contact the copyright holder, or review any specific restrictions listed on the original content. The safest option is to avoid any form of reimbursement associated with the site and the content that you remix from NC licensed content.  

Attribution-NoDerivs or CC BY-ND

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original creator.

The Non-derivative license is a bit more complicated, because there is some question about what constitutes a "derivative."   It is not clear that if you take this content and then place it into a system (like D2L or even onto your own website) that you are (or are not) creating a derivative.  

Our suggestion is to link to this content instead of embedding it into another system.  You can introduce the content and frame it in your own work (a webpage, or a D2L lecture for example) and then link out to the licensed content.  If you would like to do more, you can always contact the content creator to get his/her permission to use the work in another manner.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs or CC BY-NC-ND

This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, only allowing you to download these works and share them with others as long as you credit the creator, but you can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

The Non-derivative license is a bit more complicated, because there is some question about what constitutes a "derivative."   It is not clear that if you take this content and then place it into a system (like D2L or even onto your own website) that you are (or are not) creating a derivative.  

Our suggestion is to link to this content instead of embedding it into another system.  You can introduce the content and frame it in your own work (a webpage, or a D2L lecture for example) and then link out to the licensed content.  If you would like to do more, you can always contact the content creator to get his/her permission to use the work in another manner.  And of course this content can not be used in a commercial endeavor.  

The definition of a commercial endeavor can be confusing, for some they think placing content on a website that has advertising is not commercializing the content, so it does not violate the CC license, that only selling the content would violate the license.  If you are in doubt, contact the copyright holder, or review any specific restrictions listed on the original content. The safest option is to avoid any form of reimbursement associated with the site and the content that you remix from NC licensed content.  

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Once you find what you are looking for, and know how you can use it, make sure you cite - here is a great attribution guide from Creative Commons. And here is an Attribution Builder from OpenWashington, just fill in the blanks and it will give you the proper attribution to put on your new creation....

Content Building Tools

Finding content is your first step, here are some basics:

  • OER Commons   The OER Commons is a single search source that pulls from multiple OER collections, including MERLOT and Connexions.   
    • Users can create collections of existing content and create their own content pages to share.
    • The OER Commons is a supported by ISKME (the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education).  
  • Connexions  includes lectures, assignments, and written educational materials.  Content can be created in the Connexions interface and housed within the Connections servers.  Users can create collections of existing content and create their own content pages to share. 
  • MERLOT (merlot.org) is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community. MERLOT was opened in 199and is supported by the California State University System.  
    • MERLOT does not house content, but is a collection of links to other content.  The materials can be ranked and many are peer-reviewed.  There are discipline specific Communities that curate and review the content.  
    • You can create and share personal collections of content links.

All three of the repositories have tools that enable you to create packages of content, both yours and OERs you have found, into complete lessons and lectures that you can share with your students.

There are many additional options and sources of OER at the Open Educational Resources guide.  This guide includes discipline specific resource pages, image resources and searching, and open textbook resources. 

Licensing Compatibility

When you have found the CC licensing you want to use, it is important to know how you can license your adapteed work.  Here is a table of the CC licenses - and how that license can be subsequently licensed.  Also watch the video below for another look at combining licenses.  

  Resulting work can be licensed as:      
Orinignal License BY BY-SA  BY-NC   BY-NC-SA BY ND   BY-NC-ND
CC BY X  X
CC BY-SA          
CC BY-NC    X    
CC BY-NC-SA          
CC BY-ND*            
CC BY-NC-ND*            

*For ND licensed content you would just be providing links to the content and not remixing they content into a new creation, you are not restriced in how you licsense the content you create. 

Combining Creative Commons Licensing

This video explains some of the issues you may face when you are combining content with different CC licensing.  If you think you have a licensing conflict, you can create two (or more) separate works based on these differently licensed materials.  For example, you gather content from 3 sources about economics in the Renaissance and use them to create a lesson that you are going to post on your website for your class.  If two sources are CC-BY, and one is CC-BY-NC, then create a two part lecture/lesson, one with the two CC-BY items and one with the CC-BY-NC content. 

If you are not sure of combining licenses or just have more questions, please contact Stacy Zemke, the OER coordinator in the University Libraries.  

You can watch the first half of this video at the bottom of the CC for Creators page

License

Content based on a guide from the librarians at the University of Oklahoma. All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

Creative Commons License