Open educational resources (OER) and copyright policy

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COMOSA is a non-profit, democratic, collaborative and futuristic organization based on mutual respect and committed to support the efforts of open schooling institutions. The basic objective of the association is to cooperate and collaborate in development, promotion and introduction of innovative, high quality, relevant, equitable, gender-sensitive and cost-effective programmes of school education for sustainable development in commonwealth countries through Open and Distance Learning Mode, and thereby targeting to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations.


COMOSA members are committed to developing quality OER to maximise outcomes for all learners.

The COMOSA network wishes to foster collaboration that advances the attainment of COMOSA objectives using open education approaches with specific reference to the constitutional objectives of networking, capacity building, sharing of resources, quality assurance, project development & coordination and gender equity.

The COMOSA network:

  • has a preference for the open sharing of information and knowledge as quality and affordable open educational resources (OER)
  • recognises that intellectual property (IP) is owned by the employer or creator, unless there are specific agreements to the ownership of IP by others, and
  • wishes to foster the creativity and empowerment of individuals and institutions in their educational endeavours in a protective and/or promotional framework for educators associated with the COMOSA network.

This policy recognises that the COMOSA network and its individual members will accrue benefits from the outcomes of the IP created by the intellectual activity of its staff, and the dissemination and open sharing of these outcomes and aims to achieve equitable recognition for the creators while maximising the benefits for COMOSA institutions and their learners.

The COMOSA network wishes to support and promote free and open access to IP generated for the purpose and benefit of the COMOSA network through the “Creative Commons” licensing framework using free cultural works approved alternatives.

All IP that is brought into the COMOSA network belongs with the copyright holders of that IP but encourages re-licensing within the framework of this policy.


In this policy:

  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to the exclusive rights including economic and moral rights arising from creative works developed to support teaching and learning.
  • Outputs are the tangible products that are created by an individual or group of individuals. This may include, for example, course design documents, learning materials, curricula, and learning activities expressed in any tangible form including print, video, audio and digital formats.
  • Outcomes are the consequences and benefits which may arise from the development of, or use of, IP for example, strategic collaborations or monetary return on IP.
  • Copyright is the subsection of IP law which grants original creators (authors, musicians, artists and other creators) and owners by virtue of creative works produced in the course of employment, the rights of ownership and protection against unauthorised uses of their works for a fixed period.
  • Licenses refer to the legal mechanisms and tools for copyright holders to grant permissions and/or specify conditions for the use of copyrighted works.
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources and materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone.
  • Open Distance Learning (also referred to by the abbreviation ‘ODL’) is defined as:
    • A planned programme of study, which is characterised by the:
      • separation of the teacher from the learner in time or space, or in both;
      • use of various technologies to bridge that separation, including: print, audio or video materials, and/or information and communications technologies (ICTs);
      • three-way communication so that learners can interact with the institution, tutors and/or other learners;
      • possibility of face-to-face meetings for tutorials, learner–learner interaction, laboratory or practice sessions; and
      • use of industrialised processes, where there is a division of labour that contributes to reduced unit costs through economies of scale.
  • Open schooling refers to any of a range of flexible approaches, using open & distance learning methods, to provide structured opportunities for studying at levels below those traditionally offered by universities or other tertiary institutions.

Statutory, external policy and 3rd party contract compliance

  1. Under the provisions of this OER and copyright policy, COMOSA members are required to comply with:
    1. The national copyright act of home country regarding the ownership, rights and protections, and transfer of rights of the copyright holder, and/or
    2. The IP or copyright policies of the respective COMOSA institution or employer, and/or
    3. The requirements regarding ownership of IP specified in any employment contracts, and/or
    4. The requirements of 3rd party contracts in accordance with the intellectual property and copyright provisions specified by the contractor.
  2. Where creative works are to be shared with the COMOSA network under the provisions of this policy, the contributor is responsible for clearing the transfer of rights including assignment or licensing rights under the provisions of this policy.

Policy and procedures

Ownership of IP and copyright

  1. In general all IP and the copyright of outputs and outcomes arising from that IP are owned by the creator and/or the employer where creative works are produced in the course of employment on condition that the outputs meet the licensing principles and OER principles specified below in this policy.
  2. This policy does not exclude the possibility, in exceptional and justified cases, for COMOSA and its member institutions to apply alternative IP arrangements, however these outputs do not qualify as OER.
  3. Unless specifically contracted to do so, and while open access to published knowledge is encouraged, nothing in this policy is to be seen as COMOSA claiming any form of ownership over research outputs.

Licensing principles

  1. As licensing of IP is central to the OER concept, COMOSA will use the most free and open of Creative Commons licenses as the core licensing principle for OER outputs of the network.
  2. The Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license is preferred so as to maximise downstream benefits of COMOSA and the freedoms of future users of the OER produced by the network.
  3. The Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) can be used where it is deemed necessary to perpetuate the OER freedoms for derivative works or where source materials used require derivative works to be licensed under the ShareAlike provision.
  4. COMOSA member institutions should use the ported Creative Commons license for their country (if available), alternatively COMOSA members should use the international unported license alternative.

OER principles

  1. The COMOSA network supports the educational values that OER should be free: This means that to qualify as OER:
    • there must always be a version of the materials freely accessible at no-cost to the user (gratis) and
    • users must have the freedom to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the materials without restriction (liberty)
  2. OER should, where possible, be stored and published on the Internet in open and editable file formats so they can easily be accessed, reused, modified and shared for the benefit of all.
  3. COMOSA supports collaborative partnerships for optimisation of the potential of OER and communities of practice.

Open technologies

  1. COMOSA supports and promotes freedom of choice among member institutions, its learners and stakeholders to use their preferred technologies.
  2. Where possible, COMOSA recommends the use of free and open source software technologies in conjunction with open specifications for e-learning materials.

The IP and copyright of students' creative works

  1. This policy does not attempt to assert copyright or licensing provisions on the creative works of learners.
  2. The COMOSA network will provide objective advice to learners regarding their rights to assert copyright over their creative works and the advantages and disadvantages of open licensing alternatives.

Course design and development

  1. The development of new courses to be shared among the COMOSA network requires that core resources must be released as OER meeting the requirements of this policy.
  2. Where new or revised COMOSA courses rely on 3rd party all-rights reserved copyright materials, the course development team is required to research and source open access or OER alternatives / replacements. Where this is not possible, the development team must submit a report to the COMOSA Board justifying the use of all-rights reserved materials, providing evidence of the search for open replacements.
  3. COMOSA encourages open and transparent design and development of courses using open and accessible technologies to facilitate collaboration, avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and to improve sharing of resources within the COMOSA community.
  4. COMOSA will keep an open inventory of OER courses produced collaboratively by the network with links to editable versions of these courses for the benefit of all open schools.
  5. COMOSA agrees to work according to the Quality Assurance Toolkit for Open Schools.