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An Introduction to Copyright in An Educational Situation

Licenses and Open Access

As a copyright owner, you have the option of retaining your copyright completely, selling or licensing it to another entity (eg: a publisher or distributor), or releasing it to the Public Domain. If you want to retain your rights, but not have to field requests for specific routine uses, a public license is a great way to go! There are many options for licensing your work, but two of the most popular are Creative Commons and, for software, GNU.

Creative Commons licenses can be applied to any type of work, and are a human- and machine-readable way to say what your work can or cannot be used for. GNU licenses act similarly but are for software and related material.

Open Access: Open Access (OA) refers to freely available, digital, online information; generally scholarly literature. Open Access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors. Although Open Access can be used to describe non-scholarly resources like Wikipedia or Khan Academy, OA is usually reserved for scholarly work. Please remember: although OA resources are free to the user, they are not free to produce, host or develop.

Seeking Permission

Preparing a project for publication (in print or online) can be both exciting and a little daunting. As permissions can be tangled and difficult, requiring attention to detail and even a little detective work, we always advise that authors (or other creators) start early and document everything. Your future self (and your publisher) will be grateful that you did.

The permissions review, requesting, and receiving process can take time and resources. As you examine third-party content you wish to use in your project with an eye toward rights rights status, you may find that you have items or material for which you need to seek permission or a license. We strongly encourage you to prioritize this analysis as you work on your project. Talk to stakeholders (e.g. manuscript editor, project manager, website owner, etc) early and often to get on the same page regarding copyright, fair use, risk assessment, and "house rules" that might cause delays or backtracking at the time of publication.

*Adapted in part from Cornell University Press Copyright and Permissions Guidelines

Information contained on this website is educational in nature and is not to be construed as legal advice.